In a game that the Rangers really needed to win, the Rangers came out and delivered, thanks largely to backup goaltender Martin Biron. Biron, signed to a two year deal in the offseason to serve as the backup to Henrik Lundqvist, had a stellar game in net, making many difficult saves in pressure situations. The Rangers defense finally decided to show up tonight, blocking more shots than Biron had saves, and playing overall great defense to keep the Leafs off the board for the majority of the game. This 2-1 victory was hard fought, and much needed for the Rangers, who had lost their previous three games.
The game opened with the Rangers skating well offensively early, getting the first four shots on goal. Play was interrupted less than three minutes into the game when Derek Boogaard had his first fight of the year against Colton Orr. Boogaard landed more punches, but somehow Orr took down Boogy in the end. Toronto netminder Jonas Gustavsson kept Toronto in it early, making some great saves on Erik Christensen and Ryan Callahan. Much like how The Monster kept the Leafs in the game early, Michael Del Zotto kept the Leafs off the board later in the period with some terrific defense at even strength and on the penalty kill. The Rangers finally got a goal, when Stepan made a great play to steal the puck, through it in front of the net, where the puck wound up sitting on the goal line for Ruslan Fedotenko to bang home his first of the year. The Rangers added another goal a minute later when Michal Rozsival found Artem Anisimov in front of the net for an easy tip in goal. The second goal looked like a goal straight out of the Washington Capitals playbook.
Martin Biron, getting his first start of the season, had a very solid game, but the second period is where he really shined. The Leafs only had 5 shots on goal in the first half of the period, but they were five good shots that forced Biron to make some very difficult saves, specifically on Mikhail Grabovski, who was all alone in front of the net. After a brief reprieve where the Rangers gained control of the period, Biron again was asked to make some big saves, particularly on Phil Kessel, who took a one-timer on a mini two-on-one and fired it right into Biron’s pads. Biron was the sole reason why the second period was a scoreless period.
The Rangers opened the third period with back-to-back defensive plays that led to semi-breaks for Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov, both were denied by Gustavsson. The Rangers dominated the first half of the period, and only The Monster kept this game close with a myriad of good saves. The Leafs didn’t even register a shot until ten minutes into the period, but the second shot of the period was one that cut the Ranger lead in half, when Colby Armstrong fired home a Clarke MacArthur rebound to cut the Ranger lead to 2-1. Good thing for the Rangers they had a legitimate backup in net in Martin Biron, who was absolutely stellar in net, stopping Versteeg on a breakaway on the penalty kill to keep the game in the Rangers hands. The Rangers blocked more than 30 Leafs shots to help preserve the 2-1 victory.
Rangers goals were scored by Ruslan Fedotenko (assist to Derek Stepan), Artem Anisimov (assists to Michal Rozsival and Ryan Callahan). This was a game that the Rangers absolutely needed to win to right the ship, and they showed up, played hard, and came away with a well earned win. The Rangers next face the Bruins on Saturday night, in the first of back-to-back games.