The New York Rangers entered Tuesday’s Game 4 with the Montreal Canadiens in an all too familiar position. One that saw them blow a lead late in Game 2, followed by a lackluster performance in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd on Easter Sunday. Those losses made this game pivotal. Win and you head back to the Bell Centre all knotted up. Lose and you’re in a hole so deep it may not be possible to dig out of.
If that wasn’t enough, the Rangers had to defeat not only the Canadiens but their own demons. A six-game playoff losing streak at what was once the hardest arena to win in didn’t make the task any easier. They needed a top-notch effort from top to bottom, matching the bigger and tougher Habs blow for blow.
While still not generating much of the offensive firepower they possess, the Rangers eked out a 2-1 win to send this series back north of the border on even terms.
Hated by Rangers fans for his past postseason disappearing acts, Rick Nash was the hero on this night. His second-period goal put the Blueshirts ahead. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist then continued to shut the door, making 23 saves on 24 shots. That included a few 5-bell ones late in the game.
Going forward, the Rangers need contributions from everyone. Mats Zuccarello has one goal and is a minus-1. Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad have one point combined. Nash, minus his game winner on Tuesday, had a single goal and was a minus-2 in three games. Even captain Ryan McDonagh has only one point. That has to change.
It’s only one win, but the Rangers proved they’re in this series for the long haul. Whether that’s two more games or six more games, there’s no questioning the heart of this team. They took a series greatly favoring the Canadiens and made it even once more. In doing so, they gave themselves a fighting chance. One that guarantees ‘Lets Go Rangers!’ chants will fill Madison Square Garden at least one more time.