|TBL||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|NYR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
Oct. 5, 2008
• PHOTO GALLERY
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers made it a perfect trip to Europe, skating to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, 24 hours after defeating the same opponent by the same score in the same building.
“The games were similar as we had a lot of shots on net again tonight, though we’d like to see a few more go in and not have it so close at the end,” said defenseman Wade Redden, who notched his first Rangers goal and added an assist.
On Sunday, the Rangers wore their home blue uniforms, whereas Saturday the team was the visiting club. But so much about this contest was similar to Saturday’s, as the Blueshirts skated with power and purpose, created numerous turnovers, and outchanced the Lightning by a wide margin. And it all added up to back-to-back wins to open up the 2008-09 regular season.
“I thought our team played even better around each other, for the most part,” noted Rangers head coach Tom Renney. “When you have five people in the picture, which we did for the most part tonight, it doesn’t matter who is on the puck because we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
Holding a 2-1 lead after two periods of play, the Rangers killed off a pair of Tampa Bay power plays to preserve their advantage in the third. Ryan Callahan and Blair Betts were among the penalty killers who excelled for the Blueshirts, while goalie Henrik Lundqvist made several key saves, including a perfectly-positioned stop on Vaclav Prospal, who was camped on the doorstep for a prime scoring chance.
The Blueshirts were awarded a power play of its own at 13:05 of the third when Ryan Malone tripped Chris Drury. However, that man advantage was negated moments later when Michal Roszival was whistled for an interference penalty.
The victory was not ensured by the Rangers until the final frantic seconds of the match. Skating shorthanded, the Lightning pulled goaltender Olaf Kolzig, created a turnover at the Rangers blueline, and had the possible tying goal on the stick of captain Vincent Lecavalier with nine seconds remaining. However, Lundqvist forced Lecavalier to fumble the puck and shoot wide of the net with an aggressive move towards his left post.
Trailing 1-0 entering the second period despite vastly out chancing Tampa Bay in the first, the Rangers skated even harder and dominated play even more in the middle twenty minutes, and were able to grab a 2-1 advantage and carry it into the second intermission.
Skating on the power play, the Rangers pulled even on Redden’s first goal with his new club at 3:47 of the second. Controlling the puck in the offensive zone for more than ninety seconds on the power play, the Rangers wore down the Lightning penalty killers, who could not get off the ice, and broke through when Redden sent a one-timer past Kolzig from the slot. Markus Naslund made the perfect pass from along the goal line to Redden, stationed in the slot, for the score.
“I was standing there (in the slot) for quite a while because the power play was moving it really good there and applying a lot of pressure, keeping them hemmed in there pretty good, and then Nassy made a great play to find me in front,” explained Redden.
Kolzig kept his team in the game with one stellar save after another as the Rangers applied even more pressure after Redden’s goal. Brandon Dubinsky, Nigel Dawes, Nikolai Zherdev, Colton Orr, and Drury all had glorious scoring opportunities denied by Kolzig in the second before New York finally was able to grab its first lead of the night.
Gomez hammered home a rebound at 12:12 after Aaron Voros worked the puck out from Kolzig’s pads to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Redden’s left point slap shot was stopped by Kolzig, but Voros pried the puck loose, and Gomez, all alone outside the blue paint, sent it into the back of the net.
The Lightning picked up their level of play after the goal by Gomez, but Lundqvist made some key saves, and then was fortunate when a Steve Stamkos blast caromed off of the crossbar at the 13:51 mark of the second.
After two periods of play, the Rangers had fired 33 shots on goal, compared to only nine for the Lightning. It was a similar script to Saturday when the Blueshirts outshot Tampa Bay 41-21, but had to eke out a 2-1 victory.
“You’re going to have to play and win these one-goal games, and that’s what we said heading into the third period,” explained Gomez. “Being able to hold leads in the third period is the key to success in the National Hockey League. You’ve got to be able to win the 2-1 games, and we did that.”
Playing for the second time in as many nights, the two teams showed more hostility towards one another early in the game Sunday then they did all of Saturday. Tampa Bay’s Evgeni Artyukhin set the harder-hitting tone just 4:53 into the contest when he rumbled past Rangers defenseman Marc Staal and drove hard to the net, barreling Lundqvist over after the Blueshirt netminder had made the save.
Dubinsky and Paul Mara took exception to Artyukhin plowing into Lundqvist, and a scrum followed among several players behind the Rangers net, with Dubinsky the only one receiving a roughing penalty.
After successfully killing off the penalty, the Rangers received a jolt of energy when Voros dropped his gloves, and removed his helmet, to engage Malone in a fight at center ice 7:09 into the first.
Four minutes later, center Blair Betts stole the puck in the Lightning zone, skated past defenseman Matt Carle, and powered to the net, where he collided with Kolzig after flicking a shot on goal. Though there was no altercation after this goaltender collision, the Rangers showed that they would not be playing passive game at all.
The Blueshirts dominated much of the play in the opening period, but exited the ice after twenty minutes trailing 1-0 when former Ranger Adam Hall tipped an Andrei Meszaros point shot between Lundqvist’s pads for the first goal at 18:17. Lundqvist tightly squeezed his pads together as the puck deflected on goal, but the puck just slipped through and trickled over the goal line.
Tampa Bay was outshot 15-3 in the first period, but Kolzig was terrific in keeping the Rangers off of the scoreboard in the opening stanza. The Blueshirts’ best scoring chances came during its only power play opportunity late in the period when Naslund and Gomez, in particular, were stopped on solid chances to score. Dubinsky was also denied with four minutes remaining in the period when Kolzig sticked aside his between-the-legs shot with his back to the net.
The Rangers onslaught continued with 18 second-period shots, 16 of which were kept out of the net by Kolzig. Drury led the way with 8 shots over forty minutes, while Mara pumped five on goal.
After the game, the Rangers boarded buses and headed to the airport for a team flight back to New York. The Blueshirts will return to action in their 2008-09 home opener at Madison Square Garden on Friday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“It’ll be a great flight home,” said Gomez. “To be this far from home and get the four points is great. Now we head home, and you can’t explain it, there’s only one New York, and they can put on some kind of show back home.”
|Adam Hall (1) ASST: Andrej Meszaros (1), Chris Gratton (1)|
1 - 0 TBL
|PPG - Wade Redden (1) ASST: Markus Naslund (1), Scott Gomez (2)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Scott Gomez (1) ASST: Aaron Voros (1), Wade Redden (1)|
2 - 1 NYR
|Brandon Dubinsky Roughing against Evgeny Artyukhin|
|Aaron Voros Fighting (maj) against Ryan Malone|
|Ryan Malone Fighting (maj) against Aaron Voros|
|Vladimir Mihalik Hi-sticking against Scott Gomez|
|Jussi Jokinen Tripping against Lauri Korpikoski|
|Michal Rozsival Hooking against Ryan Malone|
|Marc Staal Interference against Vincent Lecavalier|
|Nigel Dawes Roughing against Andrej Meszaros|
|Ryan Malone Tripping against Chris Drury|
|Michal Rozsival Interference against Matthew Carle|
|Steven Stamkos Hooking against Dmitri Kalinin|
|SA: 39||TOI: 59:11|
|Saves: 37||EV: 29 - 30|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 6|
|SV%: .949||SH: 3 - 3|
|SA: 19||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 18||EV: 13 - 14|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 4|
|SV%: .947||SH: 1 - 1|