After winning game one of the Eastern Conference Finals, the New York Rangers lost the next two games to the Tampa Bay Lightning and those under the most scrutiny were the team’s stars. Henrik Lundqvist gave up 12 goals over the two games while Rick Nash had just two goals in the Rangers first 15 playoff games. Meanwhile, Martin St. Louis had yet to score his first playoff goal this year.
That all changed on Friday Night as the Rangers picked up a 5-1 victory in Tampa Bay to even the Series. While the Lightning enjoyed the majority of shots and possession, they could not make their advantage count as Lundqvist made 38 saves for the victory.
“It’s important you realize in the big moments that we all have to step up,” Lundqvist said following the game. “I felt like the entire team stepped up.”
Rick Nash opened the scoring late in the first period and the Rangers never looked back. He added a second goal on a third period powerplay that essentially sealed the deal for New York. It was the type of performance that Alain Vigneault and the Rangers have been waiting for from the man who had 42 goals in the regular season.
“That first goal by Nash; that’s the way he scores his goals, taking the puck to the net and just showing how strong he is and the speed he has,” Lundqvist said. “That was great to see. It kind of set the tone for us.”
Nash stated that he noticed that he was not going to the net enough during film study, and worked to try and get back to using his size and strength to get to the tough areas of the ice.
“I’ve been trying to make that a priority in the game, and I found [myself] a few times just kind of on the outside taking shots,” Nash said. “I was trying to bring it to the net a bit more.”
Martin St. Louis also found the back of the net, with his third period powerplay goal giving the Rangers a 4-1 lead.
“It felt good,” St. Louis said, smiling, almost as if he knew he was selling his celebration short. “I mean, you score a goal, you get a second wind, you’re not as tired. The feeling is great, and I think the rest of your game sometimes just comes together after that.”
Tampa has certainly had their stars such as Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson firing in games 2 and 3 of the series. Now New York’s stars have answered. This makes Monday Night’s crucial game five at Madison Square Garden even more intriguing than it already was.