Blueshirts Cage Panthers

RANGERS 5, PANTHERS 2

Exhausted, but joyful, over Part One of their Florida Expedition in Tampa Bay, the Rangers hedgehopped over to Sunrise last night for Part Two.

Facing them was a Panthers club not unlike the New Yorkers previous foe, the Lightning, in that each is desperately clawing for a playoff berth.

As for the claws part, Alain Vigneault‘s sextet spent last night at BB&T Center de-clawing the Big Cats, 5-2. Obviously, the Blueshirts are not in the Feel Sorry For Playoff Aspirants business.

With Henrik Lundqvist back in the net and a modicum of pizazz returned to the Rangers collective psyche, the visitors clinched their double-dip trip to the Sunshine State with relative ease.

A lot of thanks belongs to several Rangers, including Chris Kreider who opened the scoring for New York. Next came The Pizazz Man — Tanner Glass —  thrusting the Blueshirts ahead 2-0, also in the first period.

Hitting Panthers like a pinball off a flipper, Glass was apparent in his second game since being recalled from Hartford. Two Tanner appearances equal two straight wins. Means something, doesn’t it!

Kevin Hayes and Nick Holden widened the lead to 4-1 after two frames and that really was all the cushion the visitors required.

Florida added one late in the final frame, but any hopes that Cats had for a comeback were defused by Pavel Buchnevich‘s empty-netter.

OVERVIEW: The post-Trade Deadline Blues are over. A couple of wins in Florida will do that. Now it’s a question of maintaining the streak tomorrow night in Raleigh against the bottom-feeding Hurricanes.

WHAT WENT RIGHT:

  1. RIGHT ON THE ROAD: This victory marked the Blueshirts fifth straight road win. The last pair in Florida were especially noteworthy since they came against playoff-desperate teams. It’s nine out of 10 for the best road record in the NHL.
  1. SPREADING THE WEALTH: Goals were assorted, spread among fourth-liner Glass, two solid forwards — Hayes and Kreider — as well as defenseman Holden. Toss in rookie Buchnevich who concluded the scoring.
  1. DEFENSE RESTS: After the two games in the Sunshine State, the Rangers goals against mark stands at 1.00.
  1. KING COLLECTS: Lundqvist registered his 404th career victory — 10th in NHL history — passing Grant Fuhr on the all-time goalie win list. He made 43 saves on the night.

TURNING POINT: The Panthers came out strong, assaulting Lundqvist with an assortment of shots; none of which went in after which Kreider scored and soon the floodgates opened for New York.

BEST GOAL: In the second period, Hayes broke free on the left side and patiently waited for the last possible second to send the rubber into the right corner.

WHAT THEY SAID:

  1. MSG NETWORKS’ ANALYST JOE MICHELETTI: “The Rangers fourth line has been a consistent force. The club had to get off to a good start and it did. They came out and dictated the play and once again Tanner Glass was a factor.”
  1. MSG NETWORKS’ ANALYST STEVE VALIQUETTE: “Lundqvist set an example with early saves. He was cagey when he had to be. It was as good as he has been all year. After that, the scorers took over.”
  1. HENRIK LUNDQVIST: “The Panthers kept coming, but we took advantage of their defense. We didn’t want to relax because they were desperate. We were smart and I made a couple of desperation saves. Milestones for me? I’m proud. I believe in myself and my team. The big goal is to win the Stanley Cup.”
  1. ALAIN VIGNEAULT: “Five-on-five, our game was good. I wasn’t crazy about our power play and our penalty killing wasn’t very good, but we capitalized on a couple of mistakes. Our fourth line played a great game and did what it had to do.”
  1. KEVIN HAYES: “We played good defense and it resulted in goals. On my goal, I just wanted to wait him (goalie) out.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Next stop is Raleigh tomorrow night with the Hurricanes as the foe. No question, the Canes cannot be taken for granted. Figure the Rangers to continue their road domination.

BOTTOM LINE: Flaws may remain in the Rangers game as A.V. revealed, but the Blueshirts are winning and doing it without several key players. That’s a positive sign.