The Rangers Win Another Close Game, Is It More Than Luck At This Point?

The New York Rangers pulled off yet another one-goal win Saturday afternoon to take a 1-0 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in their best of seven series. But with an astounding 15 consecutive one-goal victories dating back to last year’s NHL playoffs, will the Rangers’ bubble burst before they can make it to the Stanley Cup Finals?

The New York Times certainly thinks so. With eight games decided by a 2-1 verdict so far in the 2015 NHL playoffs, columnist Jay Schreiber warns that while setting the NHL record for consecutive wins decided by one goal or less is a “testament” to the tough-minded New York Rangers, it also has become “a tough path to travel, and it hardly resembles what happened in 1994, when the Rangers won the Cup for the first time in 54 years.”

Still, it’s not all just luck that the Rangers have won these many close games, Newsday columnist Neil Best points out.

“The Rangers’ stinginess has been going on long enough that it’s not a quirk, it’s a pattern,” he writes. “Their seven victories when scoring two or fewer goals ties three other teams for the record for one playoff season — and they still have seven more potential victories to go!”

In this particular contest, Rangers’ Dominic Moore scored the game-winning goal just 17:35 into the third period. The score came when Kevin Hayes’ centering pass ricocheted off his knee, slipping behind Tampa goalie Ben Bishop. Earlier in the game, the Rangers scored first when, just 12 seconds to play in the second period, Derek Stepan followed up a blocked shot with a goal. Ironically, the shot was blocked by the Lightning’s Andrej Sustr and not their goalie Ben Bishop. Because of the circumstances, Stepan had a clear shot on goal that Bishop had no chance to defend.

The Lightning countered in the third period, tying the game early on Palat’s one-timer from the right circle. But when all was said and done, the Lightning failed to generate any more offense despite having two more power play opportunities midway and late in the third period. When the horn finally sounded, the score was — you guessed it — 2-1, a final outcome Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has gotten used to.

“I think it helps us when we’re in that position almost every night that you keep your focus on the right things, and that’s what it comes down to,” Lundqvist said after the game, as reported by Fox Sports. “We all understand that every play matters throughout the game. We’re that close every game so all the board battles and making the right plays in our own end, offensively, it all matters.”

It won’t be hard to guess what the next Rangers/Lightning final score will be either.

[Photo credit: Vladimir Rys / Getty Images]