Rangers raise the MSG roof with 6-2 rout of Habs
|Brandon Dubinsky prepares to bat a loose puck past Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak and into the net for a 2-2 tie in the second period. Dubinsky finished a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush with Ryan Callahan.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers snapped a three-game winless skid by rallying for an electric and important 6-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
The two points earned with the victory pushed the Rangers back into sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 53 points, three better than the Canadiens, who are tied for eighth place.
“I think (we) played for one another, stuck up for one another, and found a way to score some goals,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella.
paced the Rangers -- and equaled his career-high -- with four points. Callahan scored two goals and added two assists, notching four points just as he had on Dec. 17 against the Islanders.
also had a big night for the Rangers with two goals and one assist. Marian Gaborik
scored his team-leading 29th goal and added a pair of assists. Chris Drury
also notched a goal and an assist; and Vinny Prospal
contributed two helpers.
“It was a heckuva’ game by both (Callahan and Dubinsky),” said Drury. “You could tell they had their legs, they were flying. They made some great plays both with, and without, the puck. They both had real big-time games for us.”
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After a rare night of rest Saturday in St. Louis, Henrik Lundqvist
was once again in goal for the Rangers on Sunday. He finished with 18 saves for his 21st victory of the season.
“It’s funny how things can turn around in one game,” said Lundqvist. “You see how important it is to get guys scoring. I think their game picks up when they score, most of the guys. They just feel good about themselves and get confidence.”
Trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes of play, the Rangers came out a different team in the second period. The Blueshirts fought and clawed -- literally and figuratively -- their way back into the game with a middle 20 minutes that had The Garden Faithful on its feet and roaring its approval.
The Rangers scored three times in the second period. They fired 15 shots on goal. They surrendered only two shots on goal. And, just as important, they played as physical a period as they have the entire season.
“You never know how a game is going to be played, and you never know what triggers (emotion),” said Tortorella. “It’s not mapped out. You never know when the emotion is going to show. But the important thing is how you respond. And I thought we responded the correct way.”
Callahan started the comeback by scoring just 57 seconds into the period. Prospal worked the puck to Gaborik behind the Canadiens’ net, and Gaborik twirled with it to the bottom of the left circle. Gaborik then zipped a perfect pass on to the stick of Callahan, who was tied up by defenseman Paul Mara in the paint, and Callahan redirected it past Jaroslav Halak for his 11th goal of the season.
On the ensuing shift Callahan drove hard to the net again, coming within inches of tying the game if not for a sharp pad stop by Halak. Energized by the goal, Callahan’s teammates followed his lead. The Rangers began to control the action with a vicious forecheck and a hard-hitting style that greatly disrupted Montreal’s flow.
The game, though, could have swung back into the Canadiens’ favor at 8:20 of the second. With Drury and Mara already serving coincidental minors, Michal Rozsival
was penalized for high-sticking Tomas Plekanec, handing Montreal a 4-on-3 power play.
Montreal won the faceoff in the Rangers’ end, but Callahan intercepted the puck and pushed it past defensemen Andrei Markov and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Callahan then sprinted past the pair and was able to get off a strong shot that was denied by Halak. But Dubinsky was there at the side of the goalie to bat the puck out of midair and into the back of the cage for a shorthanded goal, tying the game 2-2 at 8:28.
|Rangers defenseman Wade Redden helped spark his team when he dropped the gloves for a fight with Montreal's Benoit Pouliot in the second period.
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The Rangers created a turnover at Montreal’s blueline at the 11-minute mark of the second period and it led directly to the go-ahead goal. Gaborik made the steal, chipped a pass to Prospal, and the veteran center made a great move around a diving Jaroslav Spacek before finding Dubinsky alone in the low slot. Dubinsky made no mistake, whipping the puck into the net for his second goal of the game and 10th of the season at 11:04 putting the Rangers up 3-2.
“Vinny made a spectacular pass to me all alone on the back door,” said Dubinsky. “It was a nice gift.”
With the MSG crowd raising the roof with its collective voice already, the Rangers’ fourth line added to the good vibes moments after Dubinsky’s goal with a physical shift of its own. Brian Boyle
delivered a big hit, and Aaron Voros then grappled with Montreal’s Travis Moen.
As the scrum widened, Sean Avery
paired off with Josh Gorges. When the fight was over Avery threw his arms in the air urging the already-raucous Garden crowd to get even louder.
The rough stuff picked up again at the 15:02 mark of the second. Enver Lisin was crushed by Plekanec, who was penalized for interference. But Lisin objected to the hit, and tried to get back at Plekanec, setting off a wild melee.
The Main Event was a shocker. Rangers’ defenseman Wade Redden
, who is not known for his pugilistic skills, dropped the gloves with the much bigger Benoit Pouliot. Though he may not have won the fight, Redden received a standing ovation from both the fans and his teammates.
“I’m glad he stood in there,” Tortorella said of Redden. “That’s part of him trying to get involved with our team here. I know the boys were very happy for him.”
In total, 50 penalty minutes were doled out in the second period alone. More important, the Rangers scored the only three goals of the middle stanza, and carried a one-goal advantage into the third period.
The Rangers doubled their lead 4:56 into the final period of play as Callahan potted his second goal of the game. Callahan was credited with a power-play goal when his deflection just trickled over the goal line, though it took a video review to overrule the on ice call by the referees that no goal had been scored.
Video review also upheld Brian Gionta’s goal which gave Montreal a 2-0 lead with 5:10 to go in the first period. Gionta swatted a puck out of the air and over Lundqvist’s shoulder, credited with his 13th goal of the season. The referees allowed the goal, and video review confirmed that the puck was not struck with a high stick.
Mike Cammalleri had scored his 22nd goal just 3:30 into the game for Montreal to give the Canadiens an early 1-0 lead against a Rangers’ team that had scored only one goal in its previous three games.
The ensuing 2-0 deficit could have caused the Rangers to panic. Instead they chose to fight their way back into the game, and eventually win it going away.
“We had some big goals and big contributions from a lot of guys tonight,” said Dubinsky. “These are two big points.”
The Rangers will look to build upon Sunday’s rousing victory when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night at MSG. Tickets for that game are available.
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