In the New York Rangers final visit to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, the Blueshirts defeated the Red Wings 4-1. Ryan McDonagh scored twice, including one shorthanded and Derek Stepan snapped his career-long 23 game goal-less streak.
Blueshirt Bullet Points:
1) The Rangers improved their NHL-leading road record on Sunday as they captured their 25th victory of the season away from Madison Square Garden. As the season winds down, the Blueshirts appear to be locked into the crossover Wild Card and will start their playoff journey as the away team. Good thing, since their last few playoff games at MSG have not been pretty.
2) The Red Wings are positioned at the bottom of the standings for several reasons, but the Rangers put together a solid 60-minute effort to earn two points. Each line contributed and Antti Raanta was solid between the pipes. Following a loss, the Rangers have posted a 19-5-1 in 2016-17, one way to prevent losing streaks from developing.
3) Stepan’s third-period tally was a huge weight lifted off No. 21’s shoulders. Stepan has gone through lengthy goal droughts in the past, but this was by far his longest. It started to affect his game both physically and mentally in recent weeks.
4) McDonagh’s decision to drive to the net late in the first period while New York was shorthanded paid huge dividends for the Blueshirts. Kevin Hayes raced up ice with the puck and craftily snuck a pass between Wings goaltender, Petr Mrazek’s legs. McDonagh, alertly rushed the net and was able to tap the puck in to give New York a 1-0 lead late in the opening period. McDonagh has four shorthanded goals since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, tied for first among NHL defenseman over that span.
5) Frans Nielsen tied the game 1-1 early in the second period after a brilliant passing sequence by the Red Wings while on the power play, but McDonagh broke the tie once again. After a mad scramble in front, McDonagh was able to find a loose puck and give New York a 2-1 lead. It was the second multi-goal game of his career.
6) J.T. Miller made a terrific cross-ice pass to set up Kevin Hayes as he registered his 17th goal of the 2016-17season. Hayes has established new career-highs in assists (29) and points (46) this year. Michael Grabner returned to the lineup after being sidelined with an injury the previous two games. He played alongside Miller and Hayes as the Rangers third line for most of the contest. That trio has proved to be dynamic in the past and will need to regain form as a unit if New York wants to be the overwhelming offensive threat.
7) As a unit, the Rangers defense played a complete game on Sunday. When Detroit had a couple of good scoring opportunities, more often than not Blueshirts defenders were able to prevent or block the shot the attempt. However, we still do not have an adequate answer as to why Steven Kampfer remains in the lineup.
8) Raanta will have a lot of work thrown his way as the Rangers play four sets of back-to-back games in the next few weeks while Henrik Lundqvist is out with a reported hip strain. It will be interesting to see if Magnus Hellberg gets any chances to start during this stint with the Rangers.