Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 9/23/14

Since winning games in bunches like they have for the past month and a half became common, one thing the New York Rangers have done very well is bouncing back after losses. Earlier in the week, the Blueshirts lost two close games to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, but rebounded this weekend with back-to-back complete defeats of the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers. That is always a trait of the league’s best teams, and the Rangers have established themselves as just that with the way they’ve been playing as of late.

The Rangers came out and dominated this game from the opening faceoff, which was a bit surprising considering they were involved in a spirited match-up in Buffalo just 24 hours earlier. Brad Richards opened the scoring at 11:40 of the first period with a powerplay goal to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, Artem Anisimov deposited an Erik Christensen rebound to put the Blueshirts up by two with his sixth goal of the season. Note that Artie’s reaction to the goal consisted of a simply first-pump; no rifle this time around. 

With just two minutes remaining in the first period, Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson answered back with his first NHL goal to cut into the Rangers’ lead, 2-1. Henrik Lundqvist was screened on the play and was never given ample time to pick-up Gudbranson’s slapper from the point, but even still, Henrik dropped down to his knees way too early.

New York opened the game up in the second period, and it all began with Derek Stepan’s tremendous effort at the very end of a penalty-kill. Stepan intercepted the puck in the defensive zone, made a beautiful move through the defense and to the net, and lifted a shot up high over Jose Theodore for the 3-1 lead. This play was extremely reminiscent of the one we saw from Ryan Callahan in Buffalo the night before. 

Midway through the second, Steve Eminger got on the board when his slap shot from the point deflected off a Florida defenseman and past Theodore. That would put the Rangers up by three goals, but they weren’t quite done just yet. Marian Gaborik and Derek Stepan both scored rebound goals less than a minute apart from each other before the end of the stanza, so the Blueshirts would eventually head into the intermission with a dominant 6-1 lead over the Panthers.

In the third period, as you would expect, it was all about defense. Marian Gaborik was thrown in the box for a double minor after he lost control of his stick off the faceoff. The Rangers managed to kill off the four-minute penalty without much of a problem at all, and at that point it was set-in-stone that this game was far out of reach for Florida, who had their point streak cut short tonight.

Henrik Lundqvist had a very easy night in goal, only having to make 20 stops through 60 minutes. It’s difficult to stay focused when you aren’t seeing much action, but despite a dormant second period for Hank, he was absolutely on fire during the penalty-kill that opened the third period. Meanwhile, his opponent in Jose Theodore was eventually chased through two periods and replaced by Scott Clemmenson. 

For obvious reasons, Derek Stepan is my choice for player of the game tonight. About a month or so ago, I wrote an article talking about how Stepan was in the midst of his breakout season while playing on a line with Marian Gaborik and Artem Anisimov. He further proved that tonight with two goals and an assist, and also some crucial plays on the defensive side of the puck as well. Derek now has 7 goals and 13 assists on the season, and also had his dad in the house tonight for this game.

And how about Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik? It seems like they get on the scoresheet every night and you know why it seems that way? Because they do. Richards has 12 points in his last nine games, while Gabby has 8 points in his last seven outings. For once, the Rangers’ top scorers are actually performing like top scorers. It’s been a while since the Blueshirts have had two of those in one season.

Michael Del Zotto and Steve Eminger had another great game on defense and offense in this one. They were noticeably improved on Saturday against Buffalo, and they took that a step further with another strong effort tonight. Del Zotto finished the night with an assist and four shots and goal, while Eminger had one goal on one shot.

I also liked Anton Stralmans’ game tonight. He’s improved a lot since his debut and it’s shown in his game. The Rangers, all together, have adjusted well defensively with Michael Sauer out of the lineup.

So with this weekend’s sweep of back-to-back games, the Rangers have now tied the Pittsburgh Penguins in points, but technically surpass them for fourth place since they have played fewer games. At the same time, New York only trails the conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers by one single point with a game in-hand. By the end of Tuesday night, this team could be leading the East. 

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tom Brady admits he has a cold

Paul Pierce: Computers to blame for lack of NBA trash talk

Darrelle Revis: I don’t feel sorry for Jets fans

A recent history of Super Bowl injury hullabaloo

DeflateGate football could fetch $50K at auction

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Father and son allegedly attack coach over playing time

The AFC North will regress in 2015

Doug Baldwin bringing 'sunblock' to Revis Island

Will the first-round running back return in 2015?

Robert Kraft: Richard Sherman is a 'marketing whiz'

Rob Gronkowski's party bus headed to Super Bowl

Ten worst teams to ever play in a Super Bowl

Marshawn's new stiff arm to media: You know why I'm here

Six MLB teams going all-in on 2015

Keys to victory for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX

Keys to victory for the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX

Grandpa: Marshawn would retire rather than deal with media

Ten best teams that didn't make the Super Bowl

Ranking the NBA’s Coach of the Year candidates

WATCH: Zach Parise picks up his tooth off the ice

Crosby's name misspelled as 'Sindey' on Penguins program

Joe Biden blows off Olivia Munn to talk to Aaron Rodgers

James Shields need to adjust his contract expectations

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ten worst teams to ever play in a SB

Six MLB teams going all-in on 2015

Patriots' keys to Super Bowl victory

Seahawks' keys to Super Bowl victory

DeflateGate ball could fetch $50K

Doug Baldwin ready for Revis Island

Top storylines for Super Bowl XLIX

Barnes unhappy with NBA over fine

Does MLB need more offense in the modern game?

Re-ranking the Top 25: exposing the biggest flaws

Putting the Cavs’ pieces together

Super Bowl XLIX: Key people to know

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.