On a night that began rather slowly, the New York Rangers came storming back to end the Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup hopes. They now await the winner of the Ottawa Senators-Boston Bruins series.
The first 20 minutes weren’t top-notch, with the Canadiens controlling play. There was no doubt who the desperate team was. It shouldn’t be surprising then that they scored first, Alexei Emelin beating Henrik Lundqvist about six minutes in.
For those who follow the Rangers though that is no problem. These guys have made a living out of being resilient. Whether it’s a one or two goal deficit, they’re never out. Not by a long shot.
Quiet for much of this series, Mats Zuccarello broke the ice for the Rangers. His power play goal early in the middle frame tied the score, giving the Blueshirt faithful life.
As if that wasn’t enough, Zuccarello came through once again. That goal ended up as the game winner, sending Madison Square Garden into total pandemonium. In fact, I’m fairly certain screams of “Let’s Go Rangers” and “Round 2, here we come!” can be heard throughout Manhattan tonight.
Why wouldn’t they be? A rabid fanbase that hadn’t won a round since May of 2015 can taste victory once again. Zuccarello and Lundqvist made sure of that.
Moving forward, it’s clear the Rangers are in for another battle. Under new bench boss Guy Boucher, the Senators feature a stingy defense and an offense capable of scoring goals. The Bruins, meanwhile, have battled injuries but still remain dangerous. That’s thanks in large part to netminder Tuukka Rask and the scoring prowess of uber pest Brad Marchand.
Do the Rangers have what it takes to make it past the second round? While unknown, it’s impossible to bet against a team with so much heart, determination and resiliency.