The New York Rangers brushed aside their 3-0 loss Thursday night with their own dominating performance by the same score -- blanking the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night to give them a league-leading 60 points. Martin Biron also notched his ninth win and second shutout of the year.
if one thing is clear 42 games into the year, this Rangers team is resilient, it makes adjustments and doesn't take a shift off. The win against Toronto on its home turf was especially impressive, as the Rangers dropped both games at home to them earlier in the year, 4-2. New York had a tough time combatting the Leafs' team speed and were often running around in their own zone and not pressuring enough up the ice.
But the story was different Saturday. The Blueshirts put on a defensive clinic throughout the game, allowing only 20 shots -- five in a first period in which the Rangers needed to come out strongly after Thursday's setback. There wasn't a score after 20 minutes, but it didn't matter: The Rangers dictated the pace with 27 of their 48 hits and held an 8-5 shot advantage. They rarely made any mistake in their own zone.
Their hard work paid off in the second frame, as Mike Rupp ripped his fourth goal of the season via a pass from Derek Stepan when New York took advantage of a three-on-one. Credit Stepan for staying on the ice mid-line change and jumping into the play. After a 22-game scoreless streak, Brian Boyle wristed a shot that finally found the back of the net. Boyle was the Rangers' most impressive forward -- physical, shutting down the Leafs' top line and getting a lot of offensive-zone time.
Stepan converted for his own tally at 6:01 of the third period when Biron flicked a pass to Carl Hagelin at mid-ice, who sent one to Stepan for the partial breakaway.
Overall, the Rangers outshot the Leafs 30-20, but the power play again was ineffective, going 0-for-2. It was an impressive win originating from their excellent defensive work and physical play. If the goaltenders continue their stellar work and the defense shows its tough, in-your-face style from Saturday night on a consistent basis (which they have, for the most part) the Rangers will be a very difficult team to beat.