The Rangers have become a team that does just find a way to win games they might not even deserve to be in and they did that again tonight where they played an awful first period, decent second and better third, and got some breaks against a team they should dominate. The reality was the play that typified the season for the Rangers and conversely the Devils was the game winning goal. At 13:22 of the second following a good shift for the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky would have the puck behind the net and find a pinching Michal Rozsival who would fire a shot that was going five feet wide until it hit Devils defender Andy Greene and went in.
Combine that with the 43 saves that Lundqvist made tonight to keep the team in the game long enough to catch those breaks and you have an ugly win. The Rangers a season ago do not win this game, so there is certainly a lot of positives to take from that side of it, but this team still does not handle huge wins all that well in that they come out sluggish and have to then fight uphill the rest of the night. It is good they are showing that capability, but let’s not get into the habit of looking to do that.
Something to watch for will be the injury that Erik Christensen sustained just over eight minutes in when he crashed into the post and immediately grabbed at his knee. He would not return in the game in what was described as a lower leg injury. After the game it was announced that with the injury the Rangers have recalled Dale Weise from the Connecticut Whale. Full details of play below.
The Rangers played an awful first period. They were dominated all over the ice by the Devils and frankly were lucky to be tied 1-1 at the end of the first. The flat start did not hurt them until 6:31 into the first when with Henrik down on the ice the Devils would finally find the puck in the scramble and Travis Zajac would slide it through for the goal.
The Rangers would show some signs of life in immediately answering the goal by their most consistent line when Prust drew three defenders at center and made the pass to Ruslan Fedotenko and he would drive into the zone and drop the pass to Boyle who would fire an ugly shot that would defelect off Brodeur’s glove and in for a weak goal at 7:18.
The Rangers would get dominated for the rest of the period and if not for Artem Anisimov with just 50 seconds left in the period they would have been trailing after one. Jason Arnott had a wide open net after Lundqvist had trouble with the rebound of a Tallinder shot and it was a deflection off Anisimov that sent it over the net. Final tally in the period had shots at 16-5 Devils.
The Rangers would play a better game in the second period causing more havoc for the Devils, but still gave up a ton of shots to the Devils in the frame. Just past the middle of the period following a scrum in front Brian Boyle and Dainius Zubrus would drop the gloves in this fight. It was a reasonably active fight early on with Boyle hitting Zubrus a few times in the back of the head before it became a holding match.
Following the Rozsival goal the Devils would get a breakaway for Tedenby but he would be stoned by Lundqvist and not much else happened in the period which ended with shots at 36-17 Devils.
Once again the Rangers would save their most active period for the final 20 minutes and it would take the Rangers penalty kill to bail them out as once again they would fail to convert on a huge power play opportunity, this time a four minute one to Jason Arnott early in the period. Led by Boyle, Prust, Dubinsky, Staal, Girardi the penalty kill did the job and kept the Devils off the board.
Brandon Dubinsky would get a much deserved empty net goal at the end after winning a big draw and a good play by Artem Anisimov to kill some more time. It certainly was far from pretty but they found a way.
- Brandon Dubinsky would get a much deserved empty net goal at the end after winning a big draw and a good play by Artem Anisimov to kill some more time. It certainly was far from pretty but they found a way.
- Boyle, Prust, Dubi and AA all played excellent again and it is great to see the consistency from those guys game in and game out right now
- Gaborik was not nearly as effective tonight as against the Isles and would cause yet another moving of line groupings
- Mats Zuccarello played only 7:56 tonight. 5 First period shifts, 5 combined shifts in the second and third.
- Michael Sauer made some excellent plays defensively
- Gilroy’s play came down a level but he was still solid the second half of the game