RANGERS OVERWHELM LEAFS FOR 5TH WIN IN ROW
|Sean Avery leaps in front of goalie Vesa Toskala to avoid being hit by a one of his teammate's shots on Monday night. Avery scored twice in the Rangers' four-goal third period that left Toronto reeling.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
recorded the first two-goal game of his career, and eight different players had multiple-point efforts, to lead the Rangers to their fifth consecutive victory, a 7-2 beating of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
also scored two goals in the game, and Wade Redden
recorded three points (1-2-3), as the Rangers improved to 5-1-0 on the season. The Blueshirts are currently tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference -- and the entire NHL standings -- with 10 points.
scored a goal and earned an assist for the Rangers, while Brandon Dubinsky
, Chris Drury
, Artem Anisimov
, and Vinny Prospal
all recorded a pair of assists. The two-point outing was the first of Anisimov’s NHL career.
“If we’re going to win consistently we need to get scoring all the way through,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “Right now guys are contributing, not only with the puck, but more importantly away from it.”
One night after Steve Valiquette shut out the Anaheim Ducks at The Garden, Henrik Lundqvist
turned aside 27 shots for his fourth win of the season.
Carrying a slim 3-2 lead into the third period, the Rangers received clutch goals from Avery and Gaborik just 1:17 apart before four minutes had elapsed in the final stanza to create a comfortable cushion against the hard-working Maple Leafs.
Playing in his second game since returning from a sprained knee, Avery scored his first goal of the season 1:56 into the third, whipping a backhand shot from the bottom of the right-wing circle past Vesa Toskala for a 4-2 Rangers lead.
“Sean played well, and he played well the other night (against Anaheim), and he gets rewarded tonight with a couple of goals,” said Tortorella. “I think he’s staying within himself, and that’s important. He’s doing all the things we want him to do, and he’s not sitting in the (penalty) box.”
Then at 3:13 of the third, Gaborik potted his team-high fifth goal by tapping the puck over the goal line after beating the Toronto defense to it as it lay to the side of Toskala following a shot by Redden. Gaborik has now recorded at least one point in all six games this season.
“We didn’t sit back,” Prospal said of the Rangers’ approach in the final period. “After two, Torts came in and wasn’t too happy, and we responded. We just went out and tried to score more goals.”
Gaborik earned his second point of the night in assisting on Girardi’s second goal of the evening at 13:41 of the third. Girardi corralled the rebound of an Anisimov shot that rang off the post and hammered it up and over Toskala to up the Rangers lead to 6-2.
“If we get the shots on net and get ‘em through, good things will happen,” said Girardi, whose three goals in six games this season are just one shy of his total for all of last year. “I was just fortunate tonight to get a couple of goals.”
Avery added a power-play goal with 1:57 remaining to close out the scoring, and a four-goal third period for the Blueshirts.
“I think a lot has to do with just the way we play,” Avery said of the team’s third period success so far this season. “I think because we get in on the forecheck and are relentless on the puck makes a big difference in our game.”
For the second straight night, the Rangers stormed out of the gates and controlled the play in the early going. However, unlike Sunday when the Blueshirts did not score until the third period despite their large territorial advantage against the Ducks, the Rangers were able to light the lamp just 2:34 into the first period on Monday. And after only 8:08 had elapsed on the game clock, the Rangers had built a 2-0 lead.
Skating on a 5-on-3 power play after Lee Stempniak had tripped Michal Rozsival
at 1:13 and Mike Komisarek had high-sticked Ryan Callahan
at 2:05, it took the Rangers only 29 seconds to score with the two-man advantage. Tortorella sent five forwards onto the ice, and Callahan was credited with his second goal of the season after a scrum near the side of the Leafs net ended with Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn inadvertently knocking the puck past his own goaltender.
Prospal helped put the Rangers ahead by two goals just after the eight-minute mark of the opening period by patiently holding the puck behind Toronto’s net and then zipping a perfect pass to Redden, who skated in from the left point. Redden accepted the pass in full flight and fired a one-timer past Toskala for his first goal of the season, and a 2-0 Rangers lead.
“We were in full control right from the beginning,” said Prospal.
At the time of Redden’s score, the Rangers were outshooting the Maple Leafs 11-3, not a far cry from their 13-1 shots advantage in the first period against the Ducks on Sunday. But where the Ducks were unable to break through against the Rangers, the Leafs did sneak a goal past Lundqvist with less than a minute remaining in the first period to pull within 2-1.
Toronto defenseman Ian White cranked a hard slap shot from left wing that was blocked by a mass of bodies in front. However, Lundqvist fell to the ice trying in vain to find the loose puck. With the Rangers’ goalie out of position, Alex Ponikarovsky scooted in on right wing and poked the rebound over the goal line for his third of the season with just 44.2 seconds left in opening stanza.
The Rangers answered right back to open the second period as Girardi scored his second goal of the season -- and second in as many games -- on a long slap shot from straight away after a faceoff win by Drury. The goal came just 26 seconds into the middle stanza and put the Maple Leafs back on their heels.
But Toronto did not quit, instead picking up its physical play and creating more scoring chances of their own as the period wore on. Lundqvist was forced to make several big saves, including an arm reflex after a gorgeous one-on-one move by Mikhail Grabovsky at 5:45 and a pad save on Stempniak’s break-in at 10:29.
“We came out at the start of the second period playing really well and aggressive and scored right away, then we kind of took a step back,” explained Lundqvist. “They took over and created a lot more chances. It’s easy to see what happens when we’re not skating and being aggressive.”
Back-to-back penalties called against the Rangers late in the second period helped Toronto to pull within 3-2. Jason Blake scored his first goal of the season on the second of those penalties at 17:21, somehow sneaking a left wing shot underneath Lundqvist’s arm and into the cage.
The Maple Leafs had the late goal and seemingly had the momentum on their side heading into the third period, trailing by just one goal and having crawled back into the game by outshooting their hosts by a 13-7 margin over the middle 20 minutes.
The Rangers -- who have been one of the best third period teams in the NHL so far this season -- had other plans in regards to the finish of this contest, however.
“I think we pulled our socks up and came out and had a good third,” said Avery.
Two-thirds of their way through this homestand, the Rangers will seek a sweep of these three games at The Garden on Wednesday night when they host the Los Angeles Kings. After that contest, the Rangers will head to Toronto for a rematch against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
|Three star selections