Keith Yandle (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Keith Yandle scored three points and helped spark teammate Rick Nash in an explosion of offense by the New York Rangers in Game 4.
He lines up on the blueline, but make no mistake about it: Keith Yandle’s job is to score points.
He’s been doing exactly that for the Blueshirts lately, fulfilling the high expectations that came with him when he was acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline. GM of the Year candidate Glen Sather paid a hefty price for Yandle in the form of two prospects and first- and second-round picks, but that deal is paying off in this third round of the playoffs.
Yandle scored a goal and added two assists in the Rangers’ 5-1 win against the Lightning on Friday, adding to an already impressive point streak. The 28-year-old now has a goal and five points in his last two games and nine points overall in the playoffs. That’s decent in itself, but the fact he’s scoring now is what matters most.
His first goal of the post-season was a bizarre one in the second period. Yandle slapped a one-timer on net from the Tampa blueline and hit Victor Hedman in the leg with the shot, which sent the puck skipping past Ben Bishop.
Yandle is now tied for the Rangers’ lead in defensemen scoring, which is exactly where he’s expected to be in the post-season.
Speaking of Nash, the big man finally made an appearance, firing in two goals in the victory. Martin St-Louis also popped in his first goal of the playoffs, a wide-open one-timer on the power play in the third period.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been content to play a wide-open style with the Rangers, but that style is letting the Rangers’ slumping scorers get into the game. The Rangers have now potted 10 goals in their last two games, and guys like Nash, Yandle and St-Louis are finding their confidence.
If Tampa doesn’t buckle down defensively in Game 5, the Rangers could really be off to the races.