A missing persons alert has circulated throughout the Tri-State area, as the legions of Rangers fans demanding for Henrik Lundqvist’s dismissal have mysteriously vanished.
Lundqvist made a season-high 43 saves, stopping everything but one shot, and the Rangers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, winning their third in a row. The win also had a bit of historical significance, as head coach Alain Vigneault earned the 600th victory of his career.
Halfway through a four game stretch against Western Conference foes at MSG, the Rangers (34-18-1) were outshot 44-20, but managed to take the first of two meetings with Anaheim, thanks to the stellar play of Lundqvist. The Rangers didn’t make things easy for themselves, taking four penalties, including a double minor late in the second period, but the penalty kill emerged unscathed, even generating some scoring opportunities of their own. Anaheim’s lone tally came in the middle frame, when Jakob Silfverberg scored his 16th of the season.
Despite limited shots, the Rangers earned tremendous opportunities throughout the evening, supporting Lundqvist with a quartet of goals. On their first shot of the game, Pavel Buchnevich found Oscar Lindberg for the latter’s second goal of the season, and first since January 7. In the second, further opportunities generated themselves. Mats Zuccarello shot wide, but Brady Skjei obtained the rebound, finding Chris Kreider, who got it back to Zuccarello for the second score. With the helper, Kreider extended a point streak to four games. The Rangers developed other opportunities in the frame, but Anaheim’s John Gibson made some key saves to keep it a game.
While Anaheim continued their assault, the third period became the Michael Grabner show, co-starring JT Miller. The pair added to their growing points totals, each in the two big offensive categories, as Grabner added his team high 24th and 25th goals of the season, the latter coming with Anaheim (28-17-10). Assisting each was Miller, who expanded his team-high points total to 40. Over his past four games, Miller has seven assists.
With the win, the Rangers improved to 17-5-0 against the Western Conference this year, and they’ll have two more chances to grow on with the Nashville and Colorado visiting MSG on Thursday and Saturday respectively. They’ll face off with the Ducks one last time on March 26 at Honda Center.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490.