Rangers grind out another two points

Team's remarkable resilience gives Blueshirts last laugh at Washington

Monday, 01.24.2011 / 11:05 PM / News
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Rangers grind out another two points

Rangers Celebration
Rangers teammates mob goaltender Martin Biron after the Blueshirts' backup netminder beat the Washington Capitals in an overtime shootout on Tuesday for his eighth win of the 2010-11 season.
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Analysis: Zuccarello's Shootout Magic Watch

BOX SCORE | PHOTOS | GAME CENTER

By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

The Rangers did it again on Monday night at the Verizon Center in Washington.

In almost the same exact fashion that saw them gain a 3-2 victory on Saturday night in Atlanta, the Rangers -- with eight injured regulars missing from their lineup -- rallied from a one-goal third-period deficit on Monday and then defeated the Capitals 2-1 in a game decided by an overtime shootout.

Artem Anisimov was the third Rangers player to score in the shootout -- following Wojtek Wolski and Mats Zuccarello -- and his fourth-round score provided the winning margin for the visitors, who now are tied for the league-lead with 17 road wins on the season. The Rangers are also now an amazing 7-12-3 when they trail entering the third period.

“It was a big defensive game for us,” said Zuccarello. “It was a great team effort and just a great win.”

Shut out by rookie goaltender Braden Holtby for more than 53 minutes, the Rangers finally put a puck past him to tie the game 1-1 with 6:41 remaining to play in the third period.

Marian Gaborik was credited with his 16th goal when he deflected the puck into the cage after it had bounced off of Holtby following Brian Boyle’s shot from 25 feet out. Video review upheld the on-ice call that Gaborik’s goal was not directed into the net with either his glove or a high stick, and the hard-working Rangers were rewarded with the tying goal.

“I felt the puck hit me and then I turned away and the guys were celebrating so I had an idea it was a goal,” said Gaborik. “I guess it was one of the lucky ones.”

Rangers forward Brian Boyle congratulates teammates Artem Anisimov on the overtime shootout goal that enabled the Blueshirts to claim both standings points with a 2-1 win in Washington.
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Rangers’ goalie Martin Biron made sure that tie score held up through the end of regulation by making two outstanding saves on deflected shots -- the second by Nicklas Backstrom with three minutes to play -- following Gaborik’s score.

And Biron was sensational in the five-minute overtime, stopping all six shots he faced against the surging Caps, guaranteeing that the game would be decided in the shootout following his 22-save performance.

“This was a typical, excellent team game by us,” said Gaborik. “It was a grind where everyone contributed. And Marty was great in net. It was a big win for us.”

The Rangers surged into sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the win. They now have 61 points on the season.

“The big thing is we stuck to the game plan,” said Biron. “We played well defensively all night and kept the pressure on them. We handled their top line and we took away their defensemen. It was a great effort.”

Dan Girardi joined the other injured Rangers in the press box for the first time this season, and for the first time in his NHL career. The sturdy defenseman, who suffered an injury to his rib cage area in Saturday’s game in Atlanta, had played in 330 consecutive games prior to Monday night’s scratch.

His spot in the lineup was taken by Michael Del Zotto, who was recalled from the Connecticut Whale along with forward Evgeny Grachev following Girardi’s injury. Del Zotto was paired on defense with Steve Eminger and played a smart, often physical game, receiving time on the second power play unit, as well.

Grachev also found his way into the lineup. Originally recalled as a precaution should the hurting Brandon Prust not be able to play on Monday, Grachev replaced Brodie Dupont in the lineup when Prust was declared healthy enough to play.

Although he saw only limited ice time playing on the fourth line with Chris Drury and Kris Newbury, Grachev skated with power and purpose when given the opportunity. His strong play was rewarded in the third period when he was bumped up to play some shifts alongside Prust and Brian Boyle.

Despite injuring his foot while blocking a shot two nights earlier in Atlanta, forward Brandon Prust was able to play the entire game for the Rangers and helped set the tone with his hard work and hustle.
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Despite playing a very solid first 40 minutes, the undermanned Rangers found themselves in a 1-0 hole because of a Matt Hendricks goal very early in the second period. Other than that goal, the Rangers did a fantastic job of limiting Washington’s scoring chances, as well as their shots on net. The Caps were limited to a season-low 17 shots through the end of regulation time, and on the rare times they generated quality chances, Biron was sharp in holding them at bay.

In particular, the Rangers did a very good job shutting down Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin. With Girardi sidelined, rookie Michael Sauer paired on the Rangers’ top defensive unit with Marc Staal and was impressive in helping contain Ovechkin.

“Staal was on the ice sometimes for a minute-and-a-half or two minutes playing against (Ovechkin), but he got help from all six defensemen, and our forwards did a great job coming back to defend, too,” said Biron.

Despite how well the Rangers defended him, Ovechkin still recorded four of the Caps’ 11 shots through two periods of play. And Biron was forced into making a pair of stellar one-on-one saves against Ovechkin -- one in each of the first two periods -- after Washington’s captain had deftly maneuvered around the Rangers on the ice.

Other than those two chances by Ovechkin, Biron was forced into making only one other difficult save through 40 minutes -- a sliding stacked-pad stop on Jay Beagle 11:40 into the opening period.

Hendricks scored his goal off a pretty back-door cross-ice pass from defenseman Marcus Johansson at 1:27 of the second. Hendricks snuck in from left wing and roofed Johansson’s perfect lead pass into the top of the net past a diving Biron.

The Rangers managed 18 shots on goal through two periods -- including 11 in the middle stanza -- but could not put the disc behind Holtby, the rookie making his third straight start after being recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League. Holtby’s strength was in controlling his rebounds, allowing nearly no second chances for the Rangers.

“We stayed with it, and we’ve been good at that all year,” said Gaborik. “It’s been great we’ve been all different ways, but the last two games we won the same kind of way. We grinded, were good defensively, had great goaltending, and had a huge character win.”

The Rangers play their final game before the All-Star break Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden when they host the Florida Panthers.