The catapult for the Blueshirts’ streak was provided Sunday afternoon in Detroit during a game that proves a point: That is; a match with just one goal can be a thriller-diller; and this one was just that.
When the score is tied zip-zip at the end of three periods, the eventual overtime goal not only lights the red-green bulbs signaling victory but, in the Rangers case, their second straight W.
That lone Ranger red light also informs that the scorer has an intimate knowledge of “Clutch,” as in delivering the goal at the appropriate time.
Such was the case at Joe Louis Arena where that hunk of six-ounce vulcanized rubber was scored by a potential Rangers season MVP candidate, J.T. Miller.
Meanwhile, Henrik Lundqvist — once more en route to The Land Of Superior Goaltenders — stopped 21 shots for his second Blanker-oony of the season.
With the 1-0 victory, Hammerin’ Hank once and for all pushed the late, lamented Manhattan, media-driven “Goalie Crisis” into the round file. Alias garbage.
The King’s spate of spectacular third-period saves Sunday was pivotal to the win. Ditto for the drawing board passes that led to the overtime goal. Make no mistake, the decision was in doubt right down to the final skimmer-winner.
After the Red Wings had an early OT mortgage on the puck, New York finally gained control as the extra session approached the two-minute mark.
Brady Skjei launched the counterattack in the left corner of the Rangers zone. The rookie defenseman dispatched a long pass down the left boards to Mats Zuccarello waiting at the Detroit blue line.
Zucc moved into the offensive zone, attacked the net — faked a shot — and passed off to the uncovered Miller. Depositing the biscuit was the easiest move J.T. did all afternoon; maybe all season.
OVERVIEW: In a touch-and-go situation, the cheery homily, “Genius will out,” usually prevails, whether it’s in hockey or philosophy. This is precisely what evolved for the Blueshirts on the road. Lundqvist manned the barricades to perfection and his gifted offense found the pair of valuable points.
WHAT THEY DID RIGHT:
- OOH, LA-LA, LUNDQVIST: His Majesty has returned to winning form in the best possible manner. As a commendable Coda, he has become the first goalie in NHL history with 20 wins in each of his first 12 seasons.
- INDOMINATABLE DEFENSE: A blue line unit that’s been leaky over the past few weeks stood solid. The D enabled The King to view a minimum of shots.
- PENALTY KILL: The Rangers went 3-for-3 on the PK, allowing only one shot on goal during Detroit’s three power plays. The Blueshirts did not allow a power play goal in their last two games.
- SKJEI’S ROOKIE PLAY: Brady had an assist on the game-winning goal in overtime, recorded two shots on goal and posted a plus-1 rating in 14:07of ice time. He also tallied his 20th point of the season, becoming the first Rangers defenseman to tally at least 20 points in his rookie season since Michael Del Zotto in 2009-10.
- IN THE NICK OF TIME: Overlooked last fall, Nick Holden has become a major asset for the Rangers defense corps. On the second D unit, he logged 21:14 of ice time with precision and confidence.
For the first half of overtime, the scenario was dim for the Blueshirts. The Red Wings owned much of the puck. However, Skjei gained control of the elusive rubber and thereby enabled the winning combination to move into the home club’s zone and eventually score the winner.
BEST SAVE: Henny denied Wings’ Captain Henrik Zetterberg on the doorstep just over halfway through the third period. That kept the score at zip-zip, setting the stage for the overtime winner
KEVIN HAYES: Hayes left the game at the end of the second period with a lower-body injury.
WHAT THEY SAID:
- REPORTER DYLAN TURNER: “Good defense propelled the Rangers to victory. Slowing down the speedy Red Wings, the D made the Detroiters fight for every one of their 21 shots. The lesson here is that New York can win a defense-first game. The Blueshirts’ versatility remains a major virtue.”
- REPORTER PATRICK MCCORMACK: “New York played a perfect road game. The club has recovered from its slump.”
The Rangers host the Los Angeles Kings Monday at 6:30 p.m. on MSG Networks.
BOTTOM LINE: Two noteworthy projects have been accomplished: 1. The restoration of Lundqvist’s confidence; 2. The Rangers are back in a winning groove.