In a physical back and forth affair, the New York Rangers prevailed on a late overtime goal by forward Mika Zibanejad. They now head back to Madison Square Garden with a chance to close out the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
The first 40 minutes weren’t pretty, with the Rangers allowing the Canadiens to take it to them in nearly every aspect of the game. From hits to shots on goal, there was a sizable advantage for the home team. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was far and away the best player wearing blue and white. Thus, he was the main reason why this game wasn’t over long before the third period began.
Lundqvist gave his mates confidence. Hence, they rewarded him. Eventually, with Brady Skjei tying the score at two apiece late in the middle frame. That was enough to kickstart the New York Rangers and it showed down the stretch.
Period 3 and overtime were all New York. They won puck battles, made heads up defensive plays and physically wore down a gritty Canadiens team on their home ice. Zibanejad’s game winner epitomized this, with Chris Kreider taking a sloppy play by Montreal and sending a beautiful pass up ice to his linemate who sealed the deal.
A few players I highlighted earlier in this series as needing to step up did so. The result has Ranger fans everywhere ready to celebrate if and when the time comes.
Can the New York Rangers overcome the demons? The ones that have haunted them at the world’s most famous arena (MSG) for much of 2017. While unknown, I wouldn’t bet against a team that’s shown more resiliency than any other during this still young postseason.