It’s been 20 years, but the wait is finally over for the New York Rangers. The Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens by a slim 1-0 score, sending them to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994.
The Rangers gave a strong team effort which resulted in them playing suffocating defense. Each and every player for New York contributed in the defensive game, and it was most evident in the third period.
Protecting a one-goal lead entering the third period, the Rangers picked a great time to have one of their best periods of the playoffs. They didn’t score any goals, but they played with urgency and kept pressure on the Canadiens. Most of the third was played in Montreal’s end, giving them little chance to generate speed through the neutral zone.
Montreal is an extremely fast team with skilled forwards, but every time they managed to get the puck away from New York they cleared it out of their zone. The Canadiens only got five shots on goal in the third period and only 18 in the entire game. The Rangers kept pressuring the Montreal forwards, but they played smart and took no penalties in the third.
New York almost tripled Montreal’s shot total in the third, getting 13 shots on net-minder Dustin Tokarski. The rookie played well and gave his team a chance to tie the game by weathering New York’s third period storm. However, they never got a great chance to tie the game because of the Rangers’ defense. It’s tough to win when you only get 15 shots on net at even strength.
The defensemen for New York were stepping up to their blue line to deny the Canadiens an easy entrance to the zone. Montreal had their most offensive pressure when they pulled Tokarski with two minutes remaining. Even then, the Rangers denied them any quality scoring chances.
The win is huge for obvious reasons, and it’s New York’s first playoff series victory in less than seven games since 2008. The Rangers have gotten used to doing it the hard way, so a win in six games almost seems like a short series for them. Their determination in the third period is what ultimately lifted them to the Cup Final.
Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t busy for most of the game, but he didn’t let that break his focus. He stayed sharp throughout the game and made the big saves when they needed to be made. There was definitely the vibe early that there would not be many goals in the game. One goal was a big difference from the 11 goals that were scored by the two teams in Game 5. Every Ranger contributed to this gritty win that has them moving on.
After a hard-fought game and series, the Rangers will get some much deserved rest as they wait for the Western Conference Finals to conclude. If New York continues to play the way they did in period three of Game 6, they have a strong chance against whichever team comes out of the west.