Blueshirt Bullet Points: Rangers 4 – Avalanche 2

In Blueshirt Bulletin Main Blog by Scott Charles

1) Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 400th career NHL victory on Saturday night as the New York Rangers defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 at Madison Square Garden. After the Blueshirts scored the game’s first goal, Colorado bounced back and tallied two of their own. However, the Blueshirts rallied in the third period and finished off a four-game homestand with their fourth consecutive victory against Western Conference opponents.

2) “I’m just really proud and I’m really thankful for that opportunity,” Lundqvist said. “This organization means so much to me and they’ve given me this opportunity to play a lot of hockey. It’s been 12 years where I’ve been getting a lot of starts and I had a lot of good teammates throughout the years and you think back to them right now obviously because they’re part of it as well. I will definitely enjoy this tonight and kind of reflect a little bit before you go back to work tomorrow morning.”

3) “Its impressive, he has had a stellar career,” Marc Staal said of Lundqvist. “You don’t get to 400 wins without being an elite goaltender. That’s a big milestone for him.”

4) It was obvious that the players and coaching staff wanted to win this game at MSG for a few reasons, but mainly for Lundqvist. We have seen Alain Vigneault shorten his bench before, but against the last place team, he did once again. Adam Clendening — playing in his second straight game — did not play the second half of the third period, and Jesper Fast moved up to replace Jimmy Vesey in the final minutes.

5) “We were playing for two points but there was a little extra incentive there,” J.T. Miller told Blueshirt Bulletin. “For him to get 400 wins, that’ a lot, its not just a handful that’s some of the best all time. That was pretty special.”

6) Kevin Klein has had a down season up till this point, but the feisty defenseman tallied two important goals for New York on Saturday. Early in the first period, a slap shot trickled past Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard. Then, with New York trailing by one goal, Klein launched a rocket to tie the game in the third period.

7) Late in the final period, with Pickard on the bench for Colorado, Klein went for the hat trick but missed by the open net by a few inches.

8) “The boys were trying to get it for me,” Klein said jokingly after the game. “Hayes won a big draw, and I just missed it by under a foot. I have never had one in my life, so that would have been something special.”

9) After Klein tied it in the third, Rick Nash picked up the game-winning goal, redirecting a beautiful pass from Derek Stepan. Before the play developed, Stepan knew exactly what he wanted to do with the puck. Nash planted himself in front and the alternate captain delivered the puck right on the blade of Nash’s stick. It was Nash’s 409th career NHL goal.

10) On the play, Stepan became the second Ranger (Steve Vickers) in franchise history who has tallied at least 40 points in each of his first seven NHL seasons (playing all seven with New York). Additionally, Ryan McDonagh picked up his 30th assist of the season, establishing a new career-high.

11) The Rangers have been stellar all season long against Western Conference opponents, posting a 19-5-0 record.

12) February has been a good month to the Rangers in recent years. The Blueshirts have posted a 25-5-3 record in 33 games in February since the start of the 2014-15 season, including a 5-0-0 record in games in February this season.

13) It was a big milestone night for Lundqvist, but the Rangers still struggled against the last place Avalanche. Their power play had multiple chances but had trouble setting up in the offensive zone.

14) “It’s all us, baby,” Vigneault said. “All us. Complete lack of execution. We have to work on that tomorrow.”

15) The Rangers will get back to work on Sunday, before traveling to Columbus for a big showdown with the Blue Jackets.