Raanta, Rangers Strike Down Lightning

Rangers 1, Lightning 0

The reinforcements arrived in time to do battle and battle they did.

For the Blueshirts, the beauty part was that both Hartford foot soldiers — Tanner Glass and Steven Kampfer — were part of a rejuvenated Rangers sextet in need of a fortune reversal after the Saturday night loss to Montreal.

The fortunes were reversed — upward, of course — and with them came two big points.

“Glass was a catalyst,” said MSG Networks analyst Dave Maloney. “You can’t underestimate the impact of Tanner in this game.”

The Fighting Glass Man only played a bit over five minutes, but his first period slugfest symbolized the Rangers all-game battle level; as in high.

But the story of the revived Rangers 1-0 overtime victory was Antti Raanta winning a remarkable goaltender battle with the Bolts’ agile Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Meanwhile, Mika (The OT Magician) Zibanejad took care of the offensive end with the winning score at 3:56 in the extra session. It followed a radar breakout pass from Captain Ryan McDonagh.

How about that Raanta guy? He now boasts a top-heavy 9-1 on the road.

“It was the best goaltending I’ve seen all year,” said MSG Networks analyst Ron Duguay.

While Alain Vigneault awaits the return of such skate-less wounded as Kevin Klein, Dan Girardi and Michael Grabner, the coach needed a better effort from his healthy warriors than he received against the Habs.

The coach got what he wanted, but more important was the bottom line — or in this case letter, as in W — which was accomplished in as exciting a match as anyone could have wanted.

None of this would have been possible without the magnificent netminding of Raanta, whose second period rapid fire saves were worth the price of admission alone.

Young Vasilevskiy on the other side was not too bad either. By the end of the second period, the two had combined for 49 saves alone.

The puck-stoppers maintained their excellence throughout the third period with Raanta facing the more formidable flak; not to mention in the extra session.

Some of the best games The Maven has seen over more than a half-century of watching the Rangers have been 1-0 matches. This one is right up near the top of the list.

With 38 saves in the Rangers' 1-0 OT win in Tampa Bay, Antti Raanta reached a career-high three shutouts in a season with the most saves he has ever made without letting a puck in the net.

TURNING POINT: The Rangers counterattack just before the four-minute mark of OT started with the McDonagh breakout pass to Zibanejad. Mika used a backhand-forehand move to beat Vasilevskiy.

BEST SAVES: There were far too many to count at both ends. Antti and Andrei re-defined goaltending excellence. But if you push me, a one-two Raanta combo in the first period were my favorites.

BEST GOAL: Are you kidding? There was only one: the Zibby breakaway and a beauty.

UNSUNG HERO: Rick Nash was a bull all night. He played both ends of the rink, making good decisions along with several strong thrusts down the right side. It was a vintage game for The Big Guy.

WHAT THEY SAID:

1. MSG NETWORKS ANALYST RON DUGUAY: “Both goalies had to be sharp because the referees were whistle-happy. It was a battle of the goaltenders.”

2. MSG NETWORKS ANALYST STEVE VALIQUETTE: “Rick Nash is doing all the little things well. The way he was driving to the net was an example of playoff-type hockey.”

3. MSG NETWORKS ANALYST JOE MICHELETTI: “This was one terrific hockey game. The Rangers were quick on the puck and there were a whole bunch of players who played well.  Nash was one; he would not be denied going to the net. He led the team.”

4. MIKA ZIBANEJAD “One chance one way and one chance the other way and I got the great pass from Mac (as in McDonagh.) It was a step forward for our team. Antti held us in the game and gave us a chance to win.”

5. RYAN MCDONAGH: “On the winning goal, I wanted to get a good pass to Mika. This was the game we want to bring every night. All-around it was the kind of game we need from here on in the season. Antti was our best player.”

6. ALAIN VIGNEAULT: “We got pucks deep and came after them pretty well. Both teams played extremely hard and the goaltending at both sides was terrific. Tanner was out there to make a point and we executed well. As for three-on-three, we just try not to get out there too long. In the end, it was a hard-fought hockey game and we got the two points.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS: One Sunshine State team down and tonight it’s time for another. Rangers at Panthers in Sunrise. Game Time: 7:30 P.M. TV: MSG NETWORK

BOTTOM LINE: Based on the 63:56 of hockey the final score could have read RAANTA 1, VASILEVSKIY 0.

They don’t come more exciting — end to end all night — than this one!