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Rangers offense finally finds groove in Game 4 win over Hurricanes

Rangers Hurricanes Game 4
New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox, right, celebrates with defenseman Ryan Lindgren (55) after scoring on Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta in the first period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Finally, some real signs of life from the Rangers’ offense.

After being held to four goals in the first three games of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Carolina Hurricanes — three of them coming in Game 3 at MSG (one empty-netter) — the Rangers hung four on Antti Raanta while evening the series at two games apiece.

With it came the introduction of four different members to the scoresheet this series as Andrew Copp, Ryan Lindgren, Frank Vatrano, and Frank Vatrano all collected their first points against Carolina.

Copp led the way with his first-career three-point night in the playoffs (one goal, two assists) to lead the Blueshirts. It was only the eighth time in his career — the previous seven coming in the regular season — that he recorded a three-point game. In 11 playoff games this year, he has 10 points compared to the 12 points he accrued in 34 previous playoff games with the Winnipeg Jets.

He was one of six Rangers who recorded a point on Tuesday night; quite a change of pace for a team that had just eight different players record a point over the first three games of the series. Mika Zibanejad was the only skater with more than one entering Game 4.

New York Rangers
New York Rangers center Frank Vatrano (77) celebrates his goal against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta (32) during the first period in game four of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden.Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

In the first period alone in New York’s 4-1 victory, Copp (two assists) and Adam Fox (goal, assist) had two points after New York put up two in the opening 20 minutes.

Both goals, the first from Vatrano before Fox’s tally, came on a sputtering power play that had started the series 1-for-7.

“I thought it was great,” Fox said. “Especially that first period. We came out, we were moving around the offensive zone, making plays, and getting a lot of chances… When we get set up, we have a lot of skill to move it around… that’s what it’s going to take to win games.”

Even better was that Copp and Vatrano were integral parts in setting the offensive tone for New York — their acquisitions at the trade deadline paying dividends at the perfect time.

“The day we got them we were really excited,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “The character of these guys and the work ethic they bring. They’re putting the puck in the back of the net and doing all the little things.”

Ryan Lindgren picked up his second point of the night when his shot from the point 16:48 into the second period squeaked through the pads of Raanta where Zibanejad was waiting to usher it into the back of the net. Vatrano’s secondary assist gave him his second point of the night, too.

Things got even better for Copp, who put the Rangers in the clear for good with 9:50 left in regulation for his fifth goal of the playoffs and his third point of the night.

“Overall it seemed like every line was able to create chances, was able to give the team a spark if we needed it,” Fox said. “I’d definitely say it was a complete team effort.”

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