The scoreboard doesn’t care how it happens, and neither do the standings or the playoff seeds or the engraver of the Stanley Cup.
So is it that big a deal the Rangers’ 5-1 win over the Lightning last night at the Garden was not a thing of beauty? Is it that big a deal their mistakes were absorbed by the sprawling focus of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the offense was produced mostly from names that do not sell tickets?
“It wasn’t a great game by us,” said Carl Hagelin, who scored twice for his first multi-goal game since Dec. 26, 2011. “Hank made some unbelievable saves and kept us in there and we scored on our chances. It was a pretty sloppy game, but anytime you can win 5-1, you take it.”
Hagelin netted his first goal just 31 seconds into the game, and he was backed up 15 minutes later by an open breakaway goal from Ryan Callahan. But finishing the first period up 2-0 was not an indicator of the way the Rangers (6-5-0) played, as Lundqvist made six of the most important saves of the early part of this 48-game season, keeping a wide-open game from getting out of control.
“I really feel the most important part of the game was Hank in the first period,” said coach John Tortorella. “We’re up 2-0 and we’re giving up chance after chance. We could have easily been down 3-2 in the first period, and that’s where we really settled down and played more a complete game in all zones.”
Tortorella cited six odd-man rushes for the dangerous Lightning (6-5-0) in the first period, and the best of Lundqvist’s 19 saves came when Steven Stamkos passed across the ice to Martin St. Louis, who found nothing but the blue shirt of the Blueshirts’ backbone. When Nate Thompson tried to stuff in the rebound, he was denied by Lundqvist just for good measure.
“I’m starting to get close to where I need to be,” Lundqvist said. “It’s just making the extra save when you need to. I felt like I was not far away, but the last couple games I feel like I’m doing my job.”
Ugly start, beautiful finish for Rangers
New York Post | Feb 11