Marian Gaborik was the best player on the ice when the New York Rangers played the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday evening. He generated a game-high seven shots and a number of high-percentage scoring chances. But he couldn't buy a goal until he was thrust into a situation you'd least expect him to excel in: the shootout, which he'd scored in only two of 19 times prior.
Gaborik's shootout marker on a slick double-deke past Jonas Hiller propelled the Blueshirts to a 2-1 win over the Ducks and capped a thoroughly dominating night from the Slovak, which included an assist on Jeff Woywitka's first goal as a Ranger, his ninth of his career, in the first period. All night long, Gaborik displayed his world-class speed and his quick release, yet he couldn't solve Hiller until his last possible chance.
Erik Christensen, who played 8:41 on the fourth line and was quiet all game, tallied the first goal in the shootout, on his patented front-to-one-handed-backhander move.
Perhaps the most encouraging signs from the Rangers in the win was that they had one giveaway all game. They were outshot 28-25, but the defense played a solid game and didn't hand wrap any sure opportunities to the Ducks. The Blueshirts also only took two penalties, but they were also unable to convert on four of their own chances.
New York lost the first game between these two teams in Europe, 2-1 in a shootout, but that was a time in which the Rangers were really fighting it and it was a miracle they even got a point then. For the second game in a row, despite not a lot of scoring, New York played a pretty complete game, with all sorts of players contributing to gain the win
. Woywitka's goal from Gaborik was a result of the defenseman realizing the Rangers had some traffic in front, and pounding a shot past Hiller. It capped one of New York's better periods, as they limited the Ducks to a season-low two shots, while the Blueshirts had 10.
Anaheim found their game a bit more in the second period, but it wasn't until less than 2 minutes remained in the period that Bobby Ryan ripped a top-shelf goal over Henrik Lundqvist's right shoulder. Lundqvist had 27 saves in the victory, his first in four games.
The Ducks built on their late second-period momentum with an excellent third period, outshooting the Rangers 15-4. Lundqvist was superb in keeping the game tied, and giving the Rangers at least a point.
Even though the shot advantage was only 2-1 in the overtime, the Rangers flipped their game to another gear, with several near-game-ending chances that just would not find the twine. Instead, the skills competition had to be the deciding factor.
Wojtek Wolski re-strained his groin early in the first period, but it's unclear how long he will be sidelined. Sean Avery will likely take his spot in the lineup Saturday.