Rangers bury Habs for their 50th win
Blueshirts move into NHL lead at 107 points with four games remaining
By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Michael Del Zotto turned in a second straight three-point performance Friday night, leading the Rangers to their fourth consecutive victory, a 4-1 decision over the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden.
The win---New York's sixth in its last seven games---was the 50th this season for the Rangers, marking only the third time in franchise history that the Blueshirts have reached the 50-win plateau in a season.
The Rangers now have 107 points on the season, as they maintained a five-point edge over the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have four games left to play in the regular season.
Del Zotto, who had a goal and two assists in Wednesday's 4-2 victory in Winnipeg, notched a pair of goals and one assist on Friday. Brad Richards (1-2-3) also recorded a three-point night on Friday, while Marian Gaborik (1-1-2) and Derek Stepan (0-2-2) both put forth two-point efforts.
Gaborik opened the scoring, netting his team-high 39th of the season at 8:56 of the first period. After accepting a bouncing pass from Richards in the slot, Gaborik first swung and missed at the puck, before taking a second swipe at it and firing the puck past Carey Price.
Richards wired a laser past Price 30 seconds into the second period for a power play goal, giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead. The goal was Richards' 25th of the season, and was assisted by Stepan and Del Zotto, who would team up on another power play goal in the third period.
At the 8:17 mark of the final period Del Zotto slapped the puck through Price's pads off a pass from Stepan. The Rangers went 2-for-4 on the power play on Friday, after scoring two power play goals in Wednesday's win over the Jets, marking the first time this season that the Rangers had scored more than one power play goal in back-to-back games.
Del Zotto wristed his second goal of the game, tenth of the season, and third in the last two games, past Price with 3:02 left to play to extend the Rangers lead to 4-0 before Montreal's Rene Bourque ruined Henrik Lundqvist's shutout bid with 2:29 left to play. Lundqvist finished with 19 saves to pick up his 38th win of the season, which equals his single-season career-best originally set back in 2008-09.