|TBL||0||1||1||(0 - 0)||2|
|NYR||1||1||3||(0 - 0)||5|
Nov. 6, 2008
• PHOTO GALLERY
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Chris Drury recorded a hat trick and scored his first goals on home ice this season, leading the Rangers to an exciting 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Blueshirts, who now lead the Eastern Conference with 23 points. The Rangers are 3-0 against the Lightning already this season.
Special teams played a big role in the victory for the Blueshirts. For the first time this season, the Rangers scored three power-play goals. They also notched their first shorthanded goal on the season.
“This one felt really good, especially after losing two,” said Drury, whose hat trick on Thursday evening was the second of his career. Drury’s only other three-goal game was with Sabres in a game against the Rangers on Oct. 14, 2006.
Henrik Lundqvist turned in another outstanding performance in goal with 36 saves. He helped preserve the victory with huge back-to-back stops on Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal with 12 minutes remaining in the game, and another with eight minutes left on a Steve Stamkos blast.
With the Rangers carrying a precarious 2-1 lead into the third period, Drury notched his second goal of the night just 35 seconds into the final stanza to provide a 3-1 cushion. Drury wired a power-play shot from between the circles, off a pretty Scott Gomez feed, over the blocker of Tampa goalie Mike Smith for his fourth goal of the season. It marked his second two-goal game this year.
“Obviously, I think he feels good scoring three goals, but he’s the type of player that is so good at doing other things that he doesn’t have to score in order to be a good player,” Lundqvist said of Drury.
The Lightning came right back at 7:58 when Ryan Malone beat Lundqvist under the right arm for his third goal, on the power play, to cut the Rangers’ advantage to 3-2.
But only 29 seconds later, Marc Staal hammered his first goal of the season through an Aaron Voros screen and past Smith to restore the Blueshirts’ two-goal lead. Voros was a major force on the play, bodying two men off the puck in the left wing corner, allowing Nikolai Zherdev to grab the puck and feather a pass back to Staal. The sophomore defenseman then stepped into a booming slap shot as Voros stationed himself in front of Smith, and the Rangers had a 4-2 lead.
“I think our line is successful when we are chipping the pucks in deep and we get on the puck quick,” noted Voros, who earned an assist on the play, his first point in eight games. “I just created some space for Nikky and you see what he can do. Then (Staal) found a way to get it on net, and we’ve got ourselves a goal.”
Late in the third, Smith lost his cool and had had enough of Voros, who was legally in his face all night long. Smith earned two minor penalties for slashing and high-sticking the rugged Rangers winger and then engaged in a brief fight with Voros with 1:41 remaining in the contest.
“Obviously I am in his head more than he is in my head, so I am just going to keep going there (in front of the goalie),” stated Voros. “That last swat he took was a half-Hextall. So it gets to the point where you have to stand up for yourself.”
Drury finished off his hat trick by scoring on the ensuing power play, pouncing on a rebound of a Dmitri Kalinin shot and firing into the back of the net with 27.2 seconds left to play. It was the Blueshirts’ first regular-season hat trick since Jan. 4, 2007, a span of 136 games, when Martin Straka scored three times against the Flyers at MSG.
The Rangers captain had netted his first goal, a shorthanded tally, at 14:23 of the second period to give his team a 2-0 lead. Drury stole the puck from St. Louis at the Tampa blueline and broke in on all alone on Smith. Drury completely faked out Smith with a move to his left, before firing the puck into the gaping net.
“I had a breakaway against him in Prague and one last year when he was with Dallas, and I shot it both times and was oh-for-two,” recalled Drury. “So this time I wanted to make a move and see what would happen. I am just glad it worked.”
After having surrendered five shorthanded goals already this season, including a pair to the Islanders on Tuesday, Drury’s score was the Rangers’ first while playing shorthanded this year.
Determined to make up for his giveaway that led to Drury’s goal, St. Louis answered back for the Lightning at 18:36 of the middle stanza. The four-time 30-goal scorer accepted a lead pass over the Blueshirt blueline from Vaclav Prospal, shielded the puck from defenseman Dan Girardi, and then beat Lundqvist with a gorgeous backhanded finish for his third goal of the season.
Their lead cut in half, the Rangers exited the ice after 40 minutes still holding a 2-1 advantage, though the Lightning had gained some momentum with the late goal. It would take just 35 ticks of the clock in the third period before Drury would swing the contest back in the Rangers’ favor.
Ryan Callahan scored the only goal in the first period, ripping a power play tally past Smith for his fifth of the season. Zherdev started the scoring play by skating the puck out of his own zone, up right wing, and over Tampa’s blueline. He then whipped a perfect pass to Callahan, who was streaking towards the slot, and Callahan sent a screaming one-timer into the back of the net to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 16:09 of the first.
The goal was Callahan’s third in the past 5 games. And the power play goal was the Blueshirts’ first in three games, and only the sixth in their past 51 opportunities.
Callahan’s score drew the loudest cheers of the opening period, though Voros received a huge ovation seven minutes earlier after a long rock ‘em-sock ‘em fight with Malone that left both combatants sore and exhausted.
Looking for instant energy, Rangers head coach Tom Renney had his rugged fourth line of Blair Betts, Fredrik Sjostrom, and Colton Orr on the ice to start the game. The move almost paid immediate dividends when Sjostrom stole the puck at the Rangers blueline from former teammate Marek Malik and took off down the ice on a breakaway just 30 seconds into the match. However, Smith made an excellent save on Sjostrom’s backhander, and the Rangers were denied a goal in the game’s first minute.
Tampa Bay did not record its first shot until the 7:19 mark of the first period, when Lundqvist was forced to make an awkward blocker save on Prospal’s rising right-wing wrister.
The seal broken, Tampa’s next two shots on goal also required very difficult saves by Lundqvist. First, the speedy St. Louis snuck behind the Rangers defense and broke in on right wing, only to have Lundqvist kick away his scoring attempt at 7:56. Then at 8:46, Lundqvist made a lunging right-toe stop on Evgeny Artyukhin’s open backhand shot from ten feet out.
Though he faced only nine shots in the first period, Lundqvist was forced to make two more terrific saves before intermission. He turned in a neat pad save on Adam Hall’s tough left wing shot during a 2-on-1 rush; and also made a quick right pad save on a tricky Gary Roberts shot at the buzzer.
Both goaltenders continued their sharp play in the second period, though each allowed a goal as the Rangers carried a 2-1 lead into the middle intermission. Smith was tested early in the second, making his best saves against Gomez. At the 8:27 mark, Smith make a diving save as Gomez blasted a perfect pass from Paul Mara towards a seemingly wide-open cage. And then at 12:02 Smith smothered a shot that Gomez expertly deflected from just outside the blue paint.
Lundqvist was tested more so in the latter stages of the second. He made a sensational glove save on a booming slap shot off the stick of Vincent Lecavalier that was ticketed for the top corner of the net at 15:07, less than a minute after Drury had given the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
Drury, of course, was not done scoring, and as a result the Rangers secured an important victory. They have not lost more than two games in a row yet this season.
“I liked that we scored on the power play, and scored off the rush,” said Renney. “And we battled. We showed some character, which is important, too.”
Next up on the schedule for the Blueshirts is a match-up with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals down in D.C on Saturday night. It will be the first of four meetings between these two clubs in 2008-09.
|PPG - Ryan Callahan (5) Slapshot - ASST: Nikolay Zherdev (8), Michal Rozsival (6)|
1 - 0 NYR
|SHG - Chris Drury (3) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE|
2 - 0 NYR
|Martin St. Louis (3) Backhand shot - ASST: Vinny Prospal (7), Marek Malik (1)|
2 - 1 NYR
|PPG - Chris Drury (4) Slapshot - ASST: Scott Gomez (9), Wade Redden (4)|
3 - 1 NYR
|PPG - Ryan Malone (3) Wrist shot - ASST: Mark Recchi (5), Martin St. Louis (6)|
3 - 2 NYR
|Marc Staal (1) Slapshot - ASST: Nikolay Zherdev (9), Aaron Voros (5)|
4 - 2 NYR
|PPG - Chris Drury (5) Snap shot - ASST: Dmitri Kalinin (5), Michal Rozsival (7)|
5 - 2 NYR
|Ryan Malone Fighting (maj) against Aaron Voros|
|Aaron Voros Fighting (maj) against Ryan Malone|
|Evgeny Artyukhin Hooking against Dmitri Kalinin|
|Steven Stamkos Delaying the game against Ryan Callahan|
|Chris Gratton Hooking against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Nikolay Zherdev Cross checking against Gary Roberts|
|Marek Malik Interference against Nigel Dawes|
|Wade Redden Hooking against Vinny Prospal|
|Dan Girardi Interference against Martin St. Louis|
|Mark Recchi Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Marek Malik Tripping against Nigel Dawes|
|Mike Smith Slashing against Aaron Voros|
|Mike Smith Hi-sticking against Aaron Voros|
|Mike Smith Fighting (maj) against Aaron Voros|
|Aaron Voros Unsportsmanlike conduct against Mike Smith|
|Aaron Voros Fighting (maj) against Mike Smith|
|Gary Roberts Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Gary Roberts Misconduct (10 min)|
|SA: 35||TOI: 59:50|
|Saves: 30||EV: 22 - 23|
|PIM: 9||PP: 8 - 11|
|SV%: .857||SH: 0 - 1|
|SA: 38||TOI: 59:28|
|Saves: 36||EV: 30 - 31|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 5|
|SV%: .947||SH: 2 - 2|