The New York Rangers knew they had to get Henrik Lundqvist‘s 400th win out of the way, lest the hoopla around it avalanche into a distraction.
They were able to take of it immediately on Saturday night, as they engineered a come-from-behind victory for the second game in a row, taking the game by a 4-2 final, and allowing Lundqvist to make history. In the bigger picture, the Rangers swept a four-game homestand against Western Conference competition,
Facing the team that currently sits at the bottom of the overall NHL standings, the Rangers (36-18-1) nearly fell for the proverbial trap game, falling behind 2-1 in the second period. The Rangers held the Avalanche (15-35-2) mostly in check during the first period, outshooting them 10-5 and taking the lead when Kevin Klein fired one past Calvin Pickard from the blue line. But the Avalanche took the momentum when Gabriel Landeskog scored in the final minute of the first, before ex-Ranger John Mitchell gave them a 2-1 lead early in the second, despite Lundqvist‘s insistence that he was interfered with by Jarome Iginla. In other ex-Ranger developments, Landeskog’s goal was assisted by Fedor Tyutin.
The third period, however, put the momentum back in the Rangers corner, as Klein struck once again, firing yet another hard shot past Pickard to know things up. After a go-ahead goal by Chris Kreider turned out to be a false alarm, inconclusive evidence rendering a shot that appeared to be across the goal line null and void, the Rangers made sure their next scoring opportunity was undoubtedly in the net, with Rick Nash providing the goal that would give the Rangers the lead for good. Lundqvist was his usual self, stopping 17 shots in the period, before Kevin Hayes put in an empty-netter, assists by JT Miller and Michael Grabner allowing them to extend scoring streak to six and four games, respectively. As chants of “Hen-rik” rained down from the crowd, the Rangers ran out the clock and earned their fifth consecutive win, tying their longest such streak of the season, also accomplishing the feat from October 30-November 6.
The Rangers will not only hit the road, but resume their Eastern Conference play on Monday night when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30, MSG/NBCSN).