1 Total Update since March 20, 2011
about 2 years ago Update 0 comments
With the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins tied at one apiece early in the third period, Matt Cooke laid a vicious elbow to the face of Ryan McDonagh, leading to a game misconduct and five-minute Rangers powerplay. The only problem was that about two minutes into the man advantage, the Chris Kunitz ripped a top-corner wristshot to put the Penguins ahead, 2-1.
Then Matt Niskanen took a four-minute high sticking penalty 1:28 later on Ryan Callahan and the power play finally clicked when it had to. Two power play goals within 11 seconds of each other were a part of a four-goal scoring explosion for the Rangers in the third period as they defeated the East's fourth-best team, 5-2, and won for the fourth time in a row.
While Henrik Lundqvist was able to play in today's game after the brutal collision with Benoit Pouliot, Marc Staal was missing from the lineup with an "undisclosed injury." The Penguins may have outshot the Rangers, 40-27, with a 19-7 advantage in the second period, but the Rangers' defense was relatively sound all day, only allowing shots from the outside and protecting the front of the net. Not enough can be said for Lundqvist's effort today; the Rangers went ahead in the first period on an Artem Anisimov goal to only see it disappear on a defensive coverage breakdown to Jordan Staal, but Lundqvist kept the Rangers in it. The two goals scored against him cannot be blamed on him. It's cliche, but it's performances like these that playoff-bound teams need from their goaltenders, just to keep them afloat until their own goals find the back of the net.
Marian Gaborik slapped in a rebound on the Rangers' first power play goal and Callahan -- after getting cut on the bridge of his nose by Niskanen -- fired home the second one from a very tough angle. After his time in the penalty box expired, McDonagh took a loose puck on a partial breakaway, but was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury. However, his fellow Wisconsin teammate, Derek Stepan, followed up the rebound and banged home the rebound at 18:45. Brandon Dubinsky scored the empty-net goal.
Anisimov now has 18 goals, Gaborik 22, Callahan 23, Stepan 19 and Dubinsky 21.
The Rangers are now three points behind sixth-place Montreal, who has played one less game. The Blueshirts are four points ahead of Buffalo, who has two games in hand.
about 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The New York Rangers are on a three-game winning steak, a tear which has allowed them to carve a much more comfortable position within the standings as the playoffs continue to loom closer.
But that won't allow the Rangers to take their foot off the gas when they take on the depleted Pittsburgh Penguins today at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Marian Gaborik, who after scoring two goals against the Islanders scored one against Montreal as well, has had two strong showings consecutively. As we've said here before, that's a fantastic sign for the Rangers, who will inevitable lean on their star sniper if they nab a playoff spot.
But the talk of this afternoon's game is not about Gaborik's recent re-surgence, it's about Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers' keeper, who hit his head against the goalpost at the end of New York's win over the Canadiens, is suffering from a stiff neck and is questionable for today's game.
We have been saying for weeks now that the Martin Biron injury was going to have a significant impact on the team. These are the types of situations where it really hurts the Rangers.
If Lundqvist can't go then Rangers-prospect Chad Johnson will make his sixth career NHL start.
Both Buffalo and Toronto scored big wins last night, the Sabres destroying the Thrashers, 8-2, and the Maple Leafs toppling the skidding Bruins, 5-2, so both those teams must be considered real threats to the Rangers' playoff chances. By the way, the Flyers became the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a playoff berth with their 3-2 shootout win over the Stars. Today, the Sabres host Nashville, the Devils are in Columbus and the Canadiens play in Minnesota. Here are this morning's standings:
6. Canadiens, 72 games played, 39-26-7, 85 points
7. Rangers, 72, 38-30-4, 80, won 3 in a row
8. Sabres, 71, 35-28-8, 78
9. Hurricanes, 72, 33-29-10, 76
10. Maple Leafs, 73, 32-31-10, 74
11. Thrashers, 72, 30-30-12, 72
12. Devils, 71, 33-34-4, 70, lost 2
More after the game.