Since winning lately had become more of a chore than a chuckle for the New York Rangers on their home ice, it was no surprise Tuesday night that the Blueshirts had to grapple for a 3-2 comeback win over Carolina.
Whether it was the absence of Mika Zibanajad or a case of arthritis in Alain Vigneault‘s scoring machine, winning no longer was as easy as exhaling or piling up four goals or more a game as in the past.
But in the ultra-competitive National Hockey League, two points are more valuable than ever so the New Yorkers should be tickled pink that they could overcome an early two-goal deficit and walk away with a W.
But without the Mighty Mika, the Rangers have found players who can help regain the winning routine — especially Rick Nash who ignited the comeback with the game-tying red light in the third period before Jimmy Vesey’s power-play goal sealed the deal.
A fast up-and-coming Carolina club gave the Blueshirts fits, but the key was the New Yorkers ability to fight them off, get on the score sheet in the second period, tie it early in the third and then put it away late in the final frame.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
1. THE CONQUERING KING: When the visitors were ahead 2-0, the Rangers appeared bewitched, bothered and bewildered. It was up to Henrik Lundqvist to put the brakes on the Carolina Express. He did just that long enough for defenseman Nick Holden to put New York on the score sheet in the second frame. Better still, he thwarted a final moment Canes surge when it appeared they just might tie the contest.
2. HIGH-SPEED NASH: They don’t make Nash automobiles anymore, but the Rangers Rick is thundering like a Mack Truck. His end-to-end game-tying rush at the start of the third period should earn him the nickname “The Big N,” as in notable.
3. VESEY’S STREET: There’s a Vesey Street in Manhattan and a Vesey in the Rangers lineup. For a while, the rookie was in a slump, but no more. He sure was Jimmy On The Spot potting the game-winner on the third-period power play. The Kid is a comer and will only get better as the season unfolds.
4. POWER PLAY POWERED: They finally did it. Turning a PP into a game-winner couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
1. THE COACH: “It’s what we needed,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “Rick Nash was our leader, especially with the first shift of the third period and helped set up the winner.”
2. THE GOALIE: “The key for me was to stop them from scoring the third goal and that happened,” said Lundqvist. “For us, this was a good test.”
3. THE ANALYST: “The veterans — Nash, Lundqvist, and Ryan McDonagh willed this win,” concluded Dave Maloney of MSG Network.
4. THE FAN: “It was a grind it out win for the Rangers,” writes Rob Taub of Long Island. “When they fell behind they never faltered and that, in the end, turned the game around in their favor.”
The next Rangers game is in Buffalo on Thursday night. Bolstered by the return of Jack Eichel, the Sabres will be a tough foe. Don’t miss complete coverage on MSG Network beginning at 6:30 PM.