Rangers put on a clinic in routing Islanders at MSG
|Rangers alternate captain Ryan Callahan congratulates rookie forward Artem Anisimov on Anisimov's 11th goal of the season just over three minutes into the first period. The goal stood up as the winner in a lopsided shutout for the Blueshirts.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Whether you were watching the game in person at Madison Square Garden or in 3D on the big screen at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, it was clear to see that the Rangers put forth an impressive effort in thoroughly dominating the Islanders 5-0 on Wednesday night.
scored two goals and added an assist, and Henrik Lundqvist
earned his third shutout of the season, and 23rd of his career, as the Rangers scored three times in the first period and outshot their rivals 44-27 in a completely one-sided contest.
“The team played well, and they deserved to win,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella said of his club. “They should feel good about themselves. They won the game not winning the game through a back door.”
The Rangers exploded for three goals over a five-minute stretch during the first period to put an early stranglehold on this game. Artem Anisimov
, Gaborik, and Michael Del Zotto
scored the goals as the Rangers blitzed goaltender Dwayne Roloson for three goals on seven shots to start the contest.
“We scored early and just carried it on from there,” said Del Zotto, who has now scored goals in back-to-back games. “We took the momentum with us and carried it the whole game.”
Anisimov opened the scoring with his 11th goal at 3:12. Camped just above Roloson’s crease, Anisimov collected a loose bouncing puck, settled it down, and then whipped it over Roloson’s shoulder to put the Rangers in front 1-0.
The goal came a minute after Brandon Prust
, skating on the fourth line with Anisimov, thought he had scored the game’s first goal when he jammed the puck under Roloson and over the goal line. Unfortunately for the Rangers the goal was disallowed as the referee had clearly blown his whistle before the puck entered the cage.
On the shift following the near-goal, Prust dropped his gloves and went toe-to-toe with Islanders’ rookie Trevor Gillies, who had engaged in a verbal sparring session during pregame warm-ups with the Rangers’ Sean Avery
. Prust and Gillies engaged in a long bout which ended with Gillies landing the last big punch.
The Rangers grabbed a 2-0 lead at 5:45 when Gaborik notched his 38th goal of the season. Brandon Dubinsky
, who played a forceful game all night long, set up the play with a rink-long dash, a pass to Marc Staal
, who was subsequently stopped by Roloson on a break-in, and retrieval of the puck behind the net before centering a pass to Gaborik in the low slot.
With Dubinsky doing the grunt work, all Gaborik had to do was send a perfect snap shot past a scrambling Roloson to double the Rangers’ advantage.
“I felt good out there,” said Gaborik, who recorded his 24th multiple-point outing of the season. “I tried to be skating; I tried to get to the open areas. I just felt good. We have nine games left and everyone has to contribute.”
The visitors were driven into a deeper hole by their less-than-gracious hosts at 8:30 when the Rangers secured a 3-0 lead with a power-play goal by Del Zotto. Moving the puck crisply and confidently, the Rangers created cracks in the Islanders’ coverage, capitalizing when Gaborik zipped a cross-ice pass to Del Zotto on right wing, and the rookie defenseman whipped his ninth goal past a lunging Roloson.
“I think Gaby just made a great play there,” Del Zotto said. “They’ve got to respect just how good he is and the shot he’s got, so they were all attracted to him, and I found a small open space and he made a perfect pass to me. Not too much I had to do there. I just had to put it into an open cage.”
The Rangers had plenty of opportunity to increase their lead, but to Roloson’s credit he almost singlehandedly fought the home team off by himself, keeping the score 3-0. After stopping 12 of 15 shots in the first period, Roloson was sensational while making 17 saves in a second period which saw the Rangers hold a 17-3 advantage in shots on goal.
“(Lundqvist) played well, but so did Roloson,” said Tortorella. “We had a tremendous amount of chances. When it was 3-0, with the amount of chances we were getting, we needed to get that next one because if they scored then they are right back in it.”
Perhaps Roloson’s two best saves came during the second period while denying similar breakaways by Erik Christensen
and Gaborik. At 6:24 Christensen was sprung over the blueline and sped towards the Islanders’ net before having his forehand attempt stuffed along the goal line by Roloson’s right pad. Nine minutes later Gaborik also had a breakaway and tried to beat Roloson to the same spot, only to have the same result as Christensen.
“I think with that 3-0 lead we could play more relaxed,” said Lundqvist, who finished off his shutout with 14 third-period saves. “Tonight we played really well and were really smart with the lead. I think we were in control.”
Gaborik finally was able to break through against Roloson again at 10:44 of the third period, converting a pretty backhand shot on a break-in for his team-high 39th goal of the season.
“You could tell right away he was ready to play tonight,” Tortorella said of Gaborik. “He was skating tonight, and he’s such a great skater. That’s when you know he’s going to have a good night, when he’s skating.”
The Rangers added another power play goal after Avery had goaded the Islanders into taking three minor penalties and one misconduct on the same play without incurring a penalty himself at 12:41 of the third. Avery even assisted on the fifth Rangers’ goal, scored on a Dan Girardi
slap shot with 3:41 remaining in the game, to rub salt in the frustrated Islanders’ wounds.
“Just the energy he brings gives us a big lift,” Del Zotto said of Avery. “Everything he does is huge. He’s contributing offensively, which is big for us, too. He’s been a huge factor for us, that’s for sure.”
The Rangers will try and carry the momentum from this uplifting victory with them to Newark where they will skate against the Devils Thursday night at the Prudential Center. The Blueshirts will enter that contest five points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with nine games left on the schedule.
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