Blueshirt Bullet Points: Rangers 4 – Predators 3

In Blueshirt Bulletin Main Blog by Scott Charles

1) The Rangers scored four unanswered goals as they overcame an early two-goal deficit to defeat the Nashville Predators 4-3 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

2) New York entered the second period trailing 2-0, and then Kevin Hayes made two terrific passes. First, he set up Michael Grabner who tallied his 26th of the season. Then, Hayes found J.T. Miller for a one-timer as the Rangers tied the game 2-2.

3) “I think Kevin and J.T. can make plays with the puck, and there is no doubt that Grabner, with his speed enables them to get a little bit more open space,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of his ‘third’ line which was responsible for three of New York’s four goals. “They are playing extremely well right now. Not just offensively. They are playing hard at both ends.”

4) “I think we all complement each other,” Hayes said. “I like to pass and those two clearly like to score. They’re both having a great year and scoring at will right now so I’m just trying to find them and they try to get it to me in the zone and just go from there.”

5) Henrik Lundqvist once again looked solid between the pipes. Shortly before the Rangers scored their first goal, Lundqvist made a timely save on Predators forward Ryan Johansen.

6) “For me, tonight, the game is real simple,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Its 2-0, and he has two key saves to make and he makes them. You talk about timely saves, that’s what it was right there. He made those two big saves, and allowed us to score right after on the next shift.”

7) “I think you know you have to take advantage of that opportunity as a team,” alternate captain Marc Staal said about Lundqvist’s key saves. “You get a big save like that, it keeps you within striking distance. It definitely added some urgency to us to get back in it.”

8) Chris Kreider broke a 2-2 tie when he picked up his 22nd goal of the season, a new career high for the power forward. Mats Zuccarello fired a wrist shot toward the net that deflected off Kreider’s leg and in.

9) Mike Zibanejad picked up the secondary assist on Kreider’s goal. No. 93 had several premium scoring chances in recent games. He has not scored in the past nine games, dating back to January 17th. With Derek Stepan’s line and Michael Grabner’s line both clicking, imagine how dangerous this offense could be if another trio emerges?

10) Adam Clendening found out this morning he was going to play instead of Dan Girardi. The veteran defenseman blocked several shots last game, and needed a day off to recover. Clendening held his own on the ice, and is deserving of more playing time. The staff of Blueshirt Bulletin have said it over and over again, he might not be the perfect player, but the role of a seventh defenseman is important. For the most part, hockey players do not like taking a night off. But when you have the depth, and the team’s goal is a lengthy playoff run, they should take advantage.

11) “I thought Adam played well,” Vigneault explained. “Its not easy, he gets here this morning and finds out. But all those guys, (Clendening, Matt Puempel, Brandon Pirri) are working extremely hard. They know at some point we are probably going to need them, they have to be ready. Adam comes in tonight and plays a good game for us.”

12) Predators captain Mike Fisher had a chance to tie the game late in the third period, but the puck wouldn’t settle and Fisher shot wide. “There are stretches where he is going to bury that and stretches where he is going to miss the net,” Lundvist said. “We earned that bounce in the end. It was a good win for us.”

13) With other teams in the Eastern Conference starting to make a playoff push (Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders), the Rangers needed to have a strong home stretch with four consecutive games vs. Western Conference opponents. The Blueshirts have done their job, winning the first three. The Colorado Avalanche come to town Saturday night.