INJURIES HURT RANGERS IN LOSS AT CALGARY
|Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival tangles with former teammate Nigel Dawes in front of Blueshirts goalie Steve Valiquette on Saturday night at Calgary. Valiquette made a surprise start in net to give Henrik Lundqvist some additional rest.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers showed plenty of mettle, playing a strong game even after losing Chris Drury
and Brandon Dubinsky
to injury, but still dropped a 3-1 decision to the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Saturday night.
The loss brought to a close the Blueshirts’ three-game road tour through Western Canada. The club finished 1-2-0 on the trip.
Steve Valiquette made his second straight start in goal after Henrik Lundqvist
announced Saturday morning that he had a minor injury, and that it was best for him to take another night off heading into a run of four days without a game. Valiquette, who made 26 saves in Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers, responded with another strong performance on Saturday. He finished the game with 19 saves.
Already playing without their No. 1 goalie, the Rangers next lost their captain when Drury was drilled to the ice by a blindside Curtis Glencross hit up high just 49 seconds into the first period. The hit went unpenalized even though the puck was nowhere near Drury, and the Rangers’ captain had his back to the onrushing Glencross.
Drury lay face down on the ice for some time after absorbing the blow. Eventually, he skated shakily off the ice and did not return to action.
Following the game, Rangers head coach John Tortorella announced that Drury had suffered a concussion.
“Obviously (the referees) didn’t see it, because it should have been a five-minute major,” said Tortorella.
The Rangers then lost Dubinsky early in the second period. As the Rangers were killing off a penalty, Dubinsky dropped to a knee to block a booming Dion Phaneuf slap shot, and the puck caught Dubinsky either on the right hand or wrist. Dubinsky was clearly in pain, and he had to hold his stick in his left hand. He remained on the ice despite his obvious discomfort until the Rangers cleared the puck down the ice.
Dubinsky quickly skated to the bench and immediately went to the dressing room. Like Drury, he did not return to action.
“I’m not sure what it is or where the puck hit him,” Tortorella said of Dubinsky’s injury. “I’m sure it’s going to be a little bit, a little while here (that he will be out).”
Missing his top two centers, Tortorella was forced to juggle his lines pretty much on a shift-by-shift basis. Vinny Prospal
moved from left wing to center, and both Brian Boyle
and Artem Anisimov
were handed larger roles.
The Rangers showed no quit, however. They continued to follow up their solid effort in Edmonton with another strong all-around performance in Calgary.
Trailing 2-1 in the third period, Marian Gaborik
had a slew of excellent scoring chances on the power play, though Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was up to the task at hand. Just 22 seconds into the third Gaborik was robbed on a backhander from the low slot as Kiprusoff flashed out his left pad. Two minutes later, Michael Del Zotto
hammered a slap shot on goal that Kiprusoff stopped, and Gaborik shoveled the rebound at the net, but Kiprusoff again made the save. Ryan Callahan
then chipped a second rebound attempt wide of the net.
At 9:17 of the third, Kiprusoff smothered Prospal’s spinning slap shot from straight away. And at 12:50 the Rangers pressed and nearly tied the game, but Ales Kotalik could not steer Christopher Higgins’ centering feed into the wide-open cage.
The Flames rewarded their goaltender for his terrific play by putting the game away with a goal at 16:35. Rene Bourque scored off a 3-on-2 rush, with former Rangers forward Nigel Dawes earning his third assist of the contest for Calgary.
Kiprusoff finished his impressive night with 32 saves.
“I thought it was one of our best games of the year, and the difference was Kiprusoff,” said Tortorella, whose Tampa Bay team beat Kiprusoff’s Flames in an epic seven-game Stanley Cup Finals nearly six years ago. “I thought the guys in all facets of the game played well.”
Jarome Iginla had snapped a 1-1 tie with a power play goal at 16:47 of the second, and Kiprusoff followed with a pair of excellent saves to ensure that Calgary would carry that freshly-minted one-goal lead into the third period.
With Kotalik in the penalty box serving a double minor for high sticking Craig Conroy, the Flames struck as Dawes carried the puck in deep on left wing, and sent a perfect pass from behind the goal line into the slot to Iginla. The Flames captain one-timed a shot past the gloved hand of a lunging Valiquette for his eighth goal of the season and a 2-1 Flames lead.
Ninety seconds later, Kiprusoff made a terrific sprawling save after Enver Lisin stole the puck from a Calgary defenseman in the offensive zone. Lisin skated in alone, but had very little to shoot at as Kiprusoff took away the shooting angle.
Then with 1:13 left in the second Kiprusoff came up big for his team again when he stoned Higgins on a backhand attempt from the low slot during a delayed penalty.
The two teams had traded goals during the first period. Damon Langkow opened the scoring at 3:56, deflecting an Adam Pardy shot between Valiquette’s pads, to give Calgary an early 1-0 advantage. But the Rangers struck late in the period to pull even.
Prospal controlled the puck along the right-wing wall, and feathered a pass back towards the blueline to defenseman Dan Girardi
. From just inside the blueline Girardi snaked a long wrist shot over the left shoulder of Kiprusoff to tie the game 1-1 with his fourth goal at the 17:16 mark of the first.
“I thought we had a good start,” said defenseman Matt Gilroy
. “They got one, but we didn’t back down. It was the end of the road trip, but we wanted to come out and stay focused.”
Calgary had a prime chance to regain the lead early in the second period when they had 31 seconds worth of a 5-on-3 power play. However the Rangers’ penalty killing unit -- even without Drury and Dubinsky, two key regular contributors on the kill -- held the Flames off the scoreboard.
Dubinsky was hurt at 3:50 of the second as the Rangers were shorthanded following Lisin’s slashing penalty. At 4:53, Wade Redden
was whistled for interference, setting up Calgary’s two-man advantage.
Valiquette made two good saves, including one on Olli Jokinen from just to the edge of the crease, and Girardi slid in front of the goal to block another shot during the two-man disadvantage. Marc Staal
and Callahan -- who was playing without a stick after it broke -- also played key roles during the kill.
The Rangers do not play again until Thursday night at Madison Square Garden when they host the Atlanta Thrashers. Then it is back to Canada for a tilt Saturday afternoon in Ottawa against the Senators.
|Three star selections