By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Michael Del Zotto scored a goal and added an assist, and Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 26 shots, as the Rangers evened their record at 3-3-0 on the season by edging the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The win was the second straight for the Blueshirts who beat the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday at The Garden by the score of 5-2.
The key sequence in the game took place midway through the second period when the Rangers first killed off a two-man disadvantage and then moments later scored a backbreaking power play goal of their own to grab a 2-0 lead, eliciting sustained ovations from The Garden Faithful.
With Brad Richards in the penalty box already for holding former Blueshirt teammate Ruslan Fedotenko at 7:16, Derek Stepan was whistled for a delay of game penalty at 7:59 when his clearing attempt on the penalty kill sailed over the glass. Those penalties handed the Flyers 1:17 worth of a 5-on-3 power play, but Philly was limited to only a pair of shots on goal in that span and the Rangers proceeded to kill off both the 5-on-3 and remaining 5-on-4 Flyers advantages as the Garden crowd roared its approval. Jeff Halpern, Ryan McDonagh, and Dan Girardi were on the ice for the full two minutes, doing an outstanding job of denying Philadelphia clear shooting or passing lanes.
Shortly after killing the back-to-back penalties, the Rangers were awarded a power play of their own when Max Talbot tripped Del Zotto. And at 11:31 the Blueshirts made Philly pay when Ryan Callahan finished off a neat passing sequence with Rick Nash and Del Zotto for his second goal of the season, and his 200th career point, giving the Rangers an extremely important two-goal lead.
New York had raced to a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game when Del Zotto blasted his second goal of the season past a screened Ilya Bryzgalov at the 1:57 mark. Newcomer Benn Ferriero helped make the goal possible by stealing the puck in the offensive zone and quickly sending the puck back to Del Zotto at the left point. The assist awarded to Ferriero was his first point in his second game wearing the Blueshirt after being acquired from Pittsburgh last week.
Despite the fast start by no means did the Rangers dominate their Atlantic Division rivals as both teams played very well on Tuesday night. Both Bryzgalov---who also was exceptionally good in last Thursday's 2-1 win over the Rangers down in Philadelphia---and Lundqvist---who made his sixth consecutive start---were very sharp between the pipes on Tuesday. Lundqvist's best moment came midway through the opening period when he preserved the 1-0 lead with a pair of diving saves on Danny Briere.
The one downer for the Rangers in what was otherwise a very positive night occurred at 4:42 of the third period when Callahan left the ice favoring his left arm/shoulder after a scrap with Talbot. It appeared that Callahan was hurt when Talbot yanked on Callahan's left arm. Callahan fell to the ice and Talbot immediately stopped fighting. The Rangers captain did not return to the game, and the team did not say what the exact nature or severity of the injury.
Less than three minutes after Callahan was hurt Philly defenseman Kimmo Timonen scored a power play goal to cut the Rangers lead in half after New York was penalized for having too many men on the ice at 6:11. A wide-open Timmonen recieved a pass from Wayne Simmonds and hammered it past a sliding Halpern and his goalie Lundqvist.
The Rangers, though, came up with a huge penalty kill when Marc Staal went to trhe box at 11:12. So good were the Blueshirts on the kill that they actually had the better scoring chances, with Brian Boyle and Carl Hagelin standing out with their clutch aggressive play.
Then one more time the Rangers came through on the penalty kill---this time when Marian Gaborik was penalized for tripping at 15:57---and again Hagelin stood out to help preserve the victory.
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