The Rangers pulled out a win today in a tightly contested game, beating the Atlanta Thrashers 2-1.
I felt the Rangers had the better of the play for the whole game tonight. The first Sean Avery goal was a fluke, but well deserved by Avery, who was easily the best player of the game. He had more shots than anyone else on the team, assisted on Shanahan's game-winner, and was all over the ice. He won physical battles all over the place and really tipped the game in the Rangers favor.
The Thrashers really lost control at the end of the game, and took a few cheap shots. I understand it is setting the tone for the rest of the series, but it definitely reeked of an Atlanta team who may be starting to get a little desperate after dropping two home games.
I expect the series to continue to be very close once it gets to Madison Square Garden, and my hope is the home ice will be a great advantage for the Rangers.
While we saw a lot of production from the top line in the first game, the rest of the lines stepped it up today. Now they just need to get both parts working at the same time. Straka played well, as did Jed Ortmeyer and Blair Betts, and the aformentioned Sean Avery.
I definitely questioned Bob Hartley's decision to put Hedberg in goal after one loss. While the result didn't change, I was definitely impressed by the goalie's play, and thought for sure he was going to get the win for the Thrashers. The Rangers put up about 10 more shots on goal than in game one, and Hedberg still only gave up 2 goals, compared to Lhetonen's four.
I look forward to Tuesday night and the first game at Madison Square Garden. Two games up doesn't make anything a sure bet, but it certainly helps me feel a little more confident as the series continues. However, it's hard to count out any team with the firepower that the Thrashers have.
If the Rangers can combine their effort so far with a home ice boost, they should be able to head into game four with a chance to sweep the series.