Part of what is making the New York Rangers such a successful team this season -- one of the best in the NHL -- is that they've embodied coach John Tortorella's mentality that there's always always more to work on, and their game is not perfect. Even though they dispatched the New York Islanders 3-0 rather handily, the coach and players expressed their dissatisfaction post-game with certain areas of their play, with the bench boss saying they were "really good" at times and that they "stunk" at other times as well.
Neither team could break through in the first period, but the Rangers had the 12-7 shot advantage. The Blueshirts were able to light the lamp just over five minutes into the second frame, as Michael Del Zotto broke the ankles of Frans Nielsen when he toe dragged, then fired a shot at the net. Ryan Callahan got the first whack at the rebound, but Carl Hagelin ended up getting it past Evgeni Nabakov when it deflected off his back. Del Zotto's play was the type that made your mouth drop to the floor and gives us all a reminder of how gifted offensively he is. Even better, he's been so sound defensively and has taken chances at the right times, instead of risking defense so he can jump up into the play.
It would be Del Zotto's first of two assists on the night, as he also assisted on Hagelin's in the third. Del Zotto pinched into the offensive zone, received a pass on a fake shot from Callahan and centered it as he approached the goal line to Hagelin at the crease. It was another pretty passing sequence between the captain and two of the team's young players.
Marian Gaborik would score an empty netter, his NHL-leading 22nd of the season late in the third period. While there were several breakdowns Monday night, the Rangers had Henrik Lundqvist in net who was in tip-top shape, stoning a number of point-blank chances. His 28-save shutout gave him his third of the season.
The Rangers have now won five straight and with 48 points -- a 22-8-4 record -- lead the Boston Bruins by one point for the Eastern Conference lead.
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