Rangers make a statement in OT loss

Team's refusal to fold when trailing late in game worth a valuable point

Saturday, 01.01.2011 / 11:59 PM / News
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Rangers make a statement in OT loss

Artem Anisimov
Artem Anisimov and the Rangers forwards had plenty of scoring chances at Tampa, but ran into a very hot goaltender in rookie Cedrick Desjardins, a recent call-up from the AHL who made 34 saves.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

For the seventh time in 15 games that they were trailing after two periods this season, the Rangers found a way to earn a point in the standings with a third-period rally on Saturday night. Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, they still dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Nate Thompson scored 19 seconds into overtime for Tampa Bay after Marian Gaborik had pulled the Rangers even with less than a minute remaining in regulation. The Rangers are now 4-8-3 when trailing after two periods, and they are 4-3 in overtime.

“It’s a big point,” stated defenseman Marc Staal. “Obviously that’s a tough goal there in overtime, but we stuck with it all game. Their goalie was playing well, and we managed to get a big goal there and a big point. It’s good.”

Henrik Lundqvist and rookie Cedrick Desjardins -- playing in only his second NHL game -- both starred for their respective teams in a tense goaltenders’ duel. Lundqvist finished with 31 saves and allowed only a first-period tally by Dana Tyrell and the overtime winner by Thompson, was assisted by Tyrell, who slid a pass under a sliding Matt Gilroy to the open Thompson.

“When you tie a game that late, you have to be happy with the point,” said Lundqvist. “It’s a little disappointing not to get the two points. But we worked hard and played well, I thought.”

Desjardins -- who backstopped a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday in his NHL debut -- stopped 34 of the 35 shots faced.

The Rangers were denied their league-high 14th road victory and are now 5-2-1 in their last eight games, while the Lightning are 8-1-1 in their last 10.

Facing only their second shutout loss of the season, the Rangers tied the game with 45.6 seconds left to play in the third with Lundqvist on the bench in favor of a sixth attacker. Defenseman Dan Girardi slid a pass into the slot where Marian Gaborik calmly put the puck between the pads of Desjardins for his 11th goal, tying the game 1-1 and denying the rookie a shutout.

“It definitely gives me a boost of confidence to score that goal late in the game, it was huge,” said Gaborik. “But it was a great job by them to come back, find a guy alone in front, and make a good pass in overtime. They’re a really good team, but I thought we really worked hard the final 40 minutes.”

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist gets some help in front of the net from defenseman Michal Rozsival on Saturday night at Tampa. Lundqvist finished with 31 saves and managed to hold Tampa Bay sniper Steven Stamkos off the scoreboard.
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Tyrell nearly opened the scoring just 10 seconds into the game, but Lundqvist made a sensational sliding save on Tyrell’s break-in attempt. However, 13 minutes later Lundqvist would not be as fortunate as Tyrell exacted some revenge by scoring the first goal of the game.

Skating in on right wing during a 2-on-1 rush, Tyrell slid an off-speed shot between Lundqvist’s pads at 13:03 for his fourth goal of the season, the only goal scored by either team in the opening period.

The scoring play took shape when Gaborik surrendered the puck in the offensive zone, and the Rangers were caught deep as Tampa Bay took off the other way. It was symbolic of the first 20 minutes of play in which the Rangers turned the puck over often against persistent pressure from the Lightning.

“The first period we didn’t get enough of our forecheck going,” said Gaborik. “But as the game wore on we created more and played more in their end.”

The Rangers’ overall game improved in the middle period, but the score remained 1-0 in favor of the Lightning after 40 minutes due in large part to the play of the two goaltenders. Lundqvist stopped 24 of 25 shots for the Rangers, while Desjardins denied all 20 he faced through two periods.

Lundqvist perfectly anticipated Martin St. Louis’ one-timer from the doorstep with five minutes to play in the opening period, and then made two clutch plays against Steven Stamkos -- who is second in the league with 31 goals this season -- early in the second.

On the first, Lundqvist made a quick poke check to neatly knock the puck off the stick of Stamkos after the Lightning sniper looped in behind the Rangers defense two minutes into the middle period. And on the second, a well-positioned Lundqvist absorbed Stamkos’ powerful right wing blast off his chest protector at the four-minute mark.

After a fairly quiet opening period, Desjardins was forced into making several big saves over the middle 20 minutes of play. His best came at 11:12 when he flung himself across the crease to rob Mats Zuccarello on a wide-open rebound attempt. Eight minutes earlier, he also stoned Staal off a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush, after Artem Anisimov made a pretty pass to his left in order to set up the onrushing Staal.

Desjardins kept his shutout bid alive with three more quality saves on Anisimov, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Brandon Prust -- the latter a quick snap glove save -- early in the third period, frustrating the Rangers, whose play had drastically improved as the game moved along.

“He was great in the net,” Gaborik said of Desjardins. “We created a lot of chances in their end, and their goalie made some great saves.”

Following the game in Tampa, the Rangers headed immediately to south Florida where they will skate against the Florida Panthers Sunday at 5 p.m. From there the Rangers head back home for a contest with the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.