|NYR||0||0||0||0||1 (2 - 2)||4|
|FLA||0||0||0||0||0 (1 - 3)||3|
• PHOTO GALLERY
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
It wasn’t easy, but the Rangers finished off a sweep of their two-game swing through the Sunshine State with another shootout victory, defeating the Florida Panthers 4-3 at the BankAtlantic Center on Friday evening.
Just as they did in a 3-2 shootout win in Tampa against the Lightning on Wednesday night, the Rangers surrendered a late goal that tied the match before winning in the shootout on goals by Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev.
Henrik Lundqvist, who made 38 saves during regulation and overtime, allowed a goal to the first Panthers shooter in the shootout, Rostislav Olesz. But after Naslund scored to even the score in the shootout, Lundqvist made a glove save on Stephen Weiss’ forehand attempt. Zherdev followed by ripping a shot between Craig Anderson’s pads to put the Rangers up 2-1; and Lundqvist forced Michael Frolik to shoot wide to cap the victory.
“They’re a really good team, and they work really hard,” Lundqvist said of the Panthers. “But I think we played really well in the two games down here.”
The Rangers are now 6-1 in games decided by the shootout this season. The two points earned with the win this evening give the Rangers 36 on the season, which is tops in the Eastern Conference.
“You have to find ways to win, and this team has been able to do that this year, as much as nobody wants to give us a lot of credit for that,” said Rangers head coach Tom Renney.
Aaron Voros had snapped a 2-2 tie by scoring his eighth goal of the season at 7:04 of the third period. Colton Orr started the scoring play by chipping the puck out of his own end, beating Florida defenseman Jassen Cullimore to it at center ice, and then pushing the puck into the offensive zone. As Orr battled Cullimore, Lauri Korpikoski tapped the puck to Voros by the left wing circle, and Voros snapped the puck over Anderson’s glove to put the Rangers in front 3-2.
The Rangers came very close to doubling their advantage just 22 seconds later when Dan Fritsche, who earlier in the game had scored his first goal of the season, nearly had his second of the night. Fritsche burst in on a partial breakaway, but jammed his forehand shot off of the post with Anderson in the splits, and the score remained 3-2.
At the end of the play, Voros was penalized for roughing, which began a Blueshirts parade to the penalty box. After the Rangers successfully killed off the penalty to Voros, Marc Staal was whistled for a boarding penalty at 9:35, and 13 seconds later Blair Betts was called for hooking, handing the Panthers 1:47 worth of a 5-on-3 power play.
With Lundqvist on top of his game, making huge saves on Bryan McCabe, David Booth, and Weiss, the Rangers were able to kill off the two-man disadvantage and retain their one-goal lead.
“That 5-on-3 was huge, obviously, for us,” stated Renney, whose team killed off five of six man-disadvantages on Friday. “We’ve been good on our penalty kill all year long, and were again tonight.”
However, with just 1:33 remaining in regulation, Florida skated in on a 2-on-1 break, and Booth fired an in-tight shot past Lundqvist for his team-leading 12th goal, tying the game at 3-3. Booth’s goal was reminiscent of how the Lightning were able to score in the final minute to force overtime in the Rangers previous match Wednesday night.
“I think that’s the good thing about this team, we don’t get too up and we don’t get too down, so it’s real hard to frustrate us,” said Fritsche.
In the five-minute overtime period, the Rangers fired nine shots on goal, aided by a power play 1:53 into the extra session. However, Anderson was outstanding, stopping all nine shots, including quality chances for Dmitri Kalinin, Wade Redden, and Zherdev. And the Rangers also hit iron for the fourth time on the night when Scott Gomez rang a shot off the crossbar at 2:08.
Anderson might have been fortunate in having four shots clang off iron, but he also was very good between the pipes for Florida. Anderson, starting in the place of No. 1 goalie Tomas Vokoun, turned aside 43 of 46 shots before allowing both Rangers to score in the shootout.
The Rangers stormed out to a 2-0 lead, scoring twice before the game was even three minutes old. After being pinned in their own end for the first 90 seconds of the match, the Rangers finally broke out on a rush led by Brandon Dubinsky. The sophomore center carried the puck from one end to another to start a scoring play that was capped when Zherdev potted the rebound of a Michal Rozsival slap shot just 1:53 into the contest.
The goal was Zherdev’s eighth of the season, and first in seven games. It also extended his point-scoring streak to four consecutive matches (1-6-7). Naslund picked up an assist on the play, running his point-scoring streak to five straight (3-3-6).
“I think you can see that he is playing with confidence and he’s not afraid to make moves out there,” Naslund said of Zherdev, who leads the Rangers with 23 points. “It’s working for him, which is fun to see.”
Just 46 seconds later, the Rangers struck again. Fritsche collected a bouncing puck off the left-wing boards in the offensive zone after a pass from Rozsival, slipped behind the defense, and, while falling to his knees, Fritsche flipped the puck past Anderson for his first goal as a Ranger.
“Obviously when you don’t have a goal or you’re going through a slump, and every player goes through it, it’s nice to get one,” noted Fritsche, who had played 13 games before registering a goal this season.
Just 2:39 into the match, the Rangers had a 2-0 lead, and Rozsival had already registered a pair of primary assists.
To the credit of the last-place Panthers, they did not quit despite the early deficit. They raised their battle level, improved their defensive zone play, and became more aggressive on the forecheck. As a result, the Panthers were able to work their way back into the game, cutting the Rangers’ lead in half at 12:32 of the first.
Off some hard work behind the Rangers net, Florida forward Ville Peltonen gained control of the puck before flicking a pass in front which deflected off the right skate of teammate Radek Dvorak and over the goal line. A video review upheld the on-ice call by the officials that a goal had been scored -- only the second this season and first in 20 games for the former Ranger Dvorak -- and the Rangers lead had been trimmed to 2-1.
The Rangers came within inches of adding to their lead twice before the first period had concluded, but the iron behind Anderson stood in the way each time, and the Rangers’ lead remained 2-1.
First, Chris Drury snuck in behind the defense and cleanly beat Anderson with a pretty backhand move, but the puck rolled off his stick and struck the post before bouncing harmlessly away at 13:51. Then Zherdev ripped a right-wing one-timer over the shoulder of Anderson, only to have it clang off the post at 16:12.
Anderson did not need any help from the iron behind him in the second period as he was extremely sharp against an onslaught of Rangers shots. The Rangers dominated the early part of the middle stanza, but Anderson made big-time saves on Drury, Dan Girardi, and Betts, among others, to keep the score 2-1.
All told, the Rangers would fire 17 shots on goal in the second period, and Anderson would stop each and every one. And their inability to get a shot past Anderson, would come back to haunt the Rangers when the Panthers scored a late goal to tie the game 2-2 right before the second intermission.
With Paul Mara in the penalty box for a slashing penalty, the Rangers were forced to try and kill off their second successive power play in a little more than two minutes, but they were unable to do so. Florida’s Weiss beat Betts on a face off in the Rangers zone, and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester stepped into a booming slap shot that hit Lundqvist in the chest, and then caromed off the back of Rozsival and into the net at 18:57 of the second, tying the game 2-2.
It was an unfortunate situation for the Rangers, who had thoroughly controlled play in the second, and for Lundqvist, who was playing a strong game, shining in particular on a pair of shorthanded saves on Weiss and Gregory Campbell earlier in the period and a power play stop on Booth just moments before the goal was scored.
Lundqvist and his teammates would face more adversity in the third period before this victory would be secured. But true to their form this season, the Rangers withstood the late Florida goal to notch another two points in the standings.
These same two teams will be right back at it in the back end of this home-and-home set Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden when the Rangers play host to the Panthers to close out the month of November.
|Nikolay Zherdev (8) ASST: Michal Rozsival (11), Markus Naslund (11)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Dan Fritsche (1) ASST: Michal Rozsival (12), Marc Staal (4)|
2 - 0 NYR
|Radek Dvorak (2) ASST: Ville Peltonen (4), Gregory Campbell (4)|
2 - 1 NYR
|PPG - Jay Bouwmeester (2) ASST: Stephen Weiss (10)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Aaron Voros (8) ASST: Lauri Korpikoski (2), Colton Orr (2)|
3 - 2 NYR
|David Booth (12) ASST: Radek Dvorak (4), Jay Bouwmeester (10)|
3 - 3 Tie
|1||R. Olesz||M. Naslund|
|2||S. Weiss||N. Zherdev|
|Kamil Kreps Hooking against Aaron Voros|
|Brett McLean Hooking against Blair Betts|
|Aaron Voros Roughing against Nick Boynton|
|Nick Boynton Roughing against Aaron Voros|
|Jassen Cullimore Interference against Nikolay Zherdev|
|Michal Rozsival Holding against Ville Peltonen|
|Paul Mara Slashing against Michael Frolik|
|Markus Naslund Hi-sticking against Radek Dvorak|
|Aaron Voros Roughing against Keith Ballard|
|Marc Staal Boarding against Keith Ballard|
|Blair Betts Hooking against Gregory Campbell|
|Radek Dvorak Tripping against Scott Gomez|
|Jassen Cullimore Holding against Brandon Dubinsky|
|SA: 41||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 38||EV: 27 - 29|
|PIM: 0||PP: 6 - 7|
|SV%: .927||SH: 5 - 5|
|SA: 46||TOI: 64:57|
|Saves: 43||EV: 31 - 34|
|PIM: 0||PP: 11 - 11|
|SV%: .935||SH: 1 - 1|