DETROIT — His two goals were the most tangible contribution, but this was a complete performance by Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh on Sunday when the Blueshirts needed a response after blowing a third-period lead three days prior in Raleigh, and they got it with a strong 4-1 victory over the Red Wings in their last game at Joe Louis Arena.
“We played a solid 40 minutes against Carolina; we learned a tough lesson there,” McDonagh said. “You can’t expect to just glide through the third period on the road.”
They didn’t Sunday night, rather adding to their two-goal lead with a power-play goal by none other than Derek Stepan, who snapped his career-long 23-game goal-less drought on a shot which he didn’t get off cleanly.
On the bench afterward his teammates seemed thrilled for Stepan, who as soon as he was approached in the locker room was smiling and said “The answer is yes.”
“That’s how you break those, and it felt good,” Stepan said. “It was a rough stretch, though, I’ll tell you that.”
McDonagh scored a shorthanded goal with 26.7 seconds left in the first when Kevin Hayes’ backhanded shot hit off of McDonagh’s skate and in. That was the Rangers’ ninth shorthanded goal this season, second in the NHL and triple their total from last season. His second came at 16:50 of the second off a Marc Staal rebound. Thirty-seven seconds later Hayes doubled the Rangers’ lead off a through-the-crease pass from J.T. Miller.
In his first of what will be a bunch of starts with Henrik Lundqvist out two-to-three weeks with a hip strain, Antti Raanta made 23 saves.
Aside from registering his second-career multi-goal game, McDonagh was extremely effective in winning battles and getting the attack moving quickly out of the Rangers’ zone in what was his seventh straight game playing his off, right side on a pair with Staal.
“I’m getting more comfortable, seeing more plays happen again over and over,” McDonagh said. “Obviously playing with an experienced guy like Marc, he’s very talkative back there and we’ve been working through some plays in our stretch of playing together. It’s been a lot of fun. A little bit of a challenge, but pretty fun at the same time.”
Former Red Wing Brendan Smith logged 22 minutes in his last game at The Joe, a building which Alain Vigneault wasn’t sentimental about.
Asked beforehand for his feelings about coaching one last time here, Vigneault looked up, smiled and said “You know, I think it’s time for The Joe to move on.”
Rick Nash (upper-body) and Michael Grabner (hip) each returned to the lineup Sunday after missing one and five games, respectively, and Grabner had two assists. Lundqvist is in a 72-hour shutdown period before beginning rehab, Vigneault said. Dan Girardi (ankle wound) is seeing a specialist Monday and could begin skating within a couple days. Kevin Klein (back spasms) is doing off-ice workouts but hasn’t skated since Feb. 23. “It’s a hell of a back spasm,” Vigneault said.
Published at Mon, 13 Mar 2017 04:23:11 +0000