Lundqvist, top line help Rangers make it 3 in a row
|Defenseman Wade Redden had a successful return to the lineup on a night when the entire Blueshirts team played excellent defensive hockey.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
and Marian Gaborik
both recorded a goal and an assist, and Henrik Lundqvist
turned in another stellar performance in goal, as the Rangers won their third consecutive game, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Monday night at the RBC Center.
The Rangers have won three in a row for the first time since Oct. 17, when their season-best seven-game win streak came to an end. Lundqvist made sure that a third straight victory would take place as he denied 32 of 33 shots, including all 13 he faced in the final period of play.
“We’re just trying to gain some confidence,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “And as you find a way to win some hockey games you start to feel better about yourself. We just need to stay within ourselves and play a simple game. And I think we’re on the (right) road.”
Dubinsky snapped a 1-1 tie 1:21 into the third period by scoring for the first time in 15 games. Following a turnover by ‘Canes defenseman Aaron Ward, the Rangers’ top line went to work, with Vinny Prospal
feeding a pass to Gaborik, and Gaborik setting up Dubinsky for the backhand score from in close.
“Gabby made a great play to me, and I think I had an opportunity to just shoot, but I took it to the backhand,” Dubinsky said of his game-winning goal. “I don’t know what I was thinking, but luckily for me it went in. It was nice to get one after not having one for a while.”
Four minutes later, the Rangers were handed their first power play of the night, and, if not for some stellar play by Carolina goalie Cam Ward, the visitors could have grabbed a two-goal lead. Ward was terrific as the Rangers created several excellent scoring chances on the power play. Gaborik, Ryan Callahan
, Michael Del Zotto
, and Ales Kotalik all were left shaking their heads after being stoned by Ward during the Rangers’ two-minute man-advantage.
, though, eventually iced the game by scoring into an empty net with 32.1 seconds left to play.
“It’s a big difference to sit here in the locker room, and travel, and practice when you win,” Lundqvist said. “Your shoulders are a little more upright. We’re playing really well right now.”
After a scoreless first period, the Rangers and Hurricanes traded goals 1:14 into the second. But after that the two teams resumed their scoreless ways for the remainder of the middle stanza.
Sergei Samsonov opened the scoring for Carolina 46 seconds into the middle period. After Lundqvist made a pair of good saves through traffic, Samsanov collected the puck, scooted behind the Rangers’ net with Del Zotto in pursuit, and whipped a wraparound shot into the cage just before Sean Avery
arrived at the post.
Samsonov’s sixth goal of the season was still being celebrated at the RBC Center when the Rangers struck to tie the game 28 seconds later.
Ward spun out of position when the puck fluttered wide of his net after Michal Rozsival
broke his stick on his right-wing shot. Dubinsky hopped on the loose puck to the side of the cage and put a blind pass into the low slot where Gaborik flicked a shot into the empty net for his league-leading 25th goal at 1:14.
“When we tied the game right away there, that was huge, I think,” said Lundqvist. “They didn’t really get any confidence from the first goal.”
The score quickly tied, the Rangers and ‘Canes returned their respective strong defensive games to keep game tied 1-1 after 40 minutes of play. When the defenses did break down, Ward and Lundqvist were there for their teams.
Though Lundqvist had 19 saves through two periods of play and Ward 15, it was the Carolina netminder who faced more difficult shots.
In particular in the first period, Ward was solid between the pipes for the Hurricanes. At 7:44 he was in perfect position to stop Gaborik off a 2-on-1 rush with Dubinsky. Then at 8:22 he smothered Dubinsky’s slap shot after the Rangers’ center had danced past ‘Canes defenseman Tim Gleason. Thirty seconds later he stoned Christopher Higgins on a one-timer following a perfect pass from behind the net by Artem Anisimov
In the second period, it was Anisimov’s turn to be robbed when his one-timer was denied from eight-feet out by Ward. And at 11:30, Ward played the post perfectly to deny Callahan’s quick wraparound while the Rangers were shorthanded.
Lundqvist certainly had his moments over the first two periods, too. He was particularly sharp during the Rangers’ three successful penalty kills, including a huge stop on Matt Cullen’s screened power play blast with 18.1 seconds left in the middle period.
“They had three (power plays) in a row there, and there were important times where momentum could swing,” said Tortorella. “The penalty killing has been good all year, and it starts with Hank.”
The Rangers’ defense was bolstered by the dual return of Wade Redden
and Matt Gilroy
. Redden had been scratched the previous two games, and Gilroy had played five games in Hartford before being recalled on Sunday. The two defensemen were paired together at even strength, with Redden receiving time on the penalty kill and Gilroy playing the point on the second power play unit.
“It was a great way to finish the trip,” said Redden, who had two shots on goal over 18:46 worth of ice-time. “It was a team effort, and everyone played hard. We deserved to win.”
The Rangers will go for four in a row on Wednesday night, in their final contest before the Christmas holiday, when they host the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.
|Three star selections