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New York
Rangers
43-30-9
Atlanta
Thrashers
35-41-6
OT
33 SOG
29 SOG
1st2nd3rdOTT
NYR
ATL
game recap

Rangers return to form with 3-2 OT win in Atlanta

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:46 AM
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Rangers return to form with 3-2 OT win in Atlanta
New York Rangers 3, Atlanta Thrashers 2

• PHOTO GALLERY

By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

On Wednesday night at Philips Arena in Atlanta, it took the Rangers 60 minutes of hard work to carry their contest against the Thrashers into overtime. Once in the extra period, it took just 18 seconds for Scott Gomez to score and hand the Blueshirts an exciting 3-2 victory.

The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Rangers, who are now 8-4-1 in 13 road games this season and 8-2 in overtime. The Rangers have not lost more than two in a row at any point yet this season.

“It’s a big win, first and foremost, for the team,” said Gomez. “It’s a big boost to get an overtime goal to win. So hopefully we’re going to turn it around, and tonight is a good indication of that.”

Gomez started the winning play by rushing the puck out of his own end. He passed to Markus Naslund on left wing, and continued his sprint towards the Thrashers’ net. Naslund sent a shot on goal that was stopped by Atlanta netminder Johan Hedberg; but Gomez burst behind the defense and backhanded the rebound past a sprawling Hedberg for the game-winner.

The goal was Gomez’s fifth of the season, and first in seven matches.

The Rangers had scored a shorthanded goal 1:20 into the third period to grab a 2-1 lead, but the Thrashers answered back less than 90 seconds later to once again tie the contest.

Ryan Callahan was credited with his seventh goal of the season, rewarded after -- like Gomez on the game-winning score -- he drove hard to the net.

On Callahan’s goal, Brandon Dubinsky sent the puck towards the net, but Hedberg sticked it away. However, the puck caromed off the chest of the onrushing Callahan, between the legs of a surprised Hedberg, and over the goal line. A split-second later Callahan crashed into Hedberg and the goal posts came off their moorings, but the goal counted as the red light was flashing before the net came unhinged.

“We were at our best when we got shots and rebounds and outworked them in front,” observed Naslund.

Their second one-goal lead of the night quickly evaporated, however, as Ilya Kovalchuk tied the game with his 10th goal at 2:49. Kovalchuk started the scoring play by blasting a shot off the foot of defenseman Michal Rozsival in front of the Rangers’ cage. As Rozsival tried to limp back into position, Atlanta regained control of the puck, and Kovalchuk snuck in behind the Rangers defense to deflect a shot past Rangers goalie Stephen Valiquette to tie the game 2-2.

Making his fifth start of the season in goal, Valiquette turned in a solid performance. Valiquette, who finished with 27 saves, was at his best late in the first period when the Thrashers had their best sustained pressure of the night.

“The one thing a backup goalie can do when he plays is to provide a real charge, and I know the guys play really hard for me,” said Valiquette. “Hopefully tonight can get us all really going.”

During the final three minutes of the first, Valiquette made a string of big saves, including a pair of dazzlers on Atlanta’s Eric Perrin. Valiquette made, arguably, his best save of the match with 46 seconds remaining in the opening period when he flashed his glove up high to snare a rising left wing shot off the stick of Colby Armstrong during a 2-on-1 Atlanta rush.

“He was on all night,” Gomez said of Valiquette. “He’s such a big part of our team, such a positive guy, always there for everyone. And he’s a great goaltender, no doubt about it.”

If that was not his biggest stop, then, perhaps, his glove save with 1:31 remaining in regulation on a screened Jason Williams shot was. From left wing Williams shot the puck between a pair of legs, and Valiquette lunged to his left to snag the puck before it could hit the back of the net.

Veteran defenseman Wade Redden returned to the Rangers’ lineup after sitting out Sunday’s home game against the Flames due to a lower-body injury. Reunited with usual blueline partner Dan Girardi, Redden recorded three assists for his fourth multiple-point contest of the season. It was the first three-point game for Redden as a Ranger, and he also finished the night a plus-three.

The Rangers scored the first goal of the game, and snapped a long drought in the process, early in the second period. And the most unlikely of sources came through for the Rangers to tally that goal.

Rugged winger Colton Orr grabbed a loose puck in the low slot and fired it into the cage at 2:37 of the second to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The goal was not only Orr’s first of the season, but it was his first in more than a calendar year -- dating back to Nov. 21, 2007, a span of 83 games -- and just the fourth of his NHL career.

Aaron Voros did a great job in front of the Thrashers’ net to occupy Hedberg while also collecting the rebound of Redden’s point shot and sending the puck into the slot to the wide-open Orr.

The score was extremely uplifting for the Rangers on many fronts. The Rangers had not scored a goal in 103:54, since Nigel Dawes tallied late in the second period last Thursday in Montreal. And to have Orr, the popular fourth-line winger, be the one to snap the scoring schneid made the moment even sweeter.

However, it didn’t take the Thrashers long to pull even on the scoreboard. And they, too, received a goal from a somewhat unlikely source.

Rookie forward Joey Crabb scored his first NHL goal at 6:05 of the second to tie the game 1-1. Crabb, originally a seventh-round selection by the Rangers in the 2002 NHL entry draft, accepted a long pass from defenseman Nathan Oystrick at the Rangers blueline and skated in on a breakaway as the Blueshirts were caught on a line change. Crabb finished by firing a forehand shot over the glove of Valiquette to pull the Thrashers even.

“It wasn’t until we got about halfway through the game that the intensity started to pick up and you could see the two teams really wanted to win this hockey game,” observed Valiquette.

More of the unexpected took place before the middle stanza was complete. After Valiquette made a strong save through traffic at 10:52, a scrum erupted to the side of the Rangers’ net. However, instead of a pair of enforcers squaring off, two skilled offensive players went at it as Gomez and Kovalchuk threw punches at one another. Gomez got the best of the exchange, and both players received double-minors for roughing.

“He’s a great player, but he took an extra swipe at Vally there, so I reacted,” explained Gomez. “It’s hockey, and stuff like that happens.”

Later in the second, Gomez and Kovalchuk once again were whistled for coincidental minors, this time for slashing, after a confrontation in the Thrashers’ zone.

Gomez saved the true knockout punch, though, for the overtime period as his inspirational night lifted the Rangers to a very important win.

Next up for the Rangers will be a match against Gomez’s former team, the New Jersey Devils, Friday night in Newark. The Blueshirts then return home 24 hours later to host the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.

scoring summary
1st Period
NONE
2nd Period
02:37
NYR
Colton Orr (1) ASST: Aaron Voros (6), Wade Redden (11)
1 - 0 NYR
06:05
ATL
Joey Crabb (1) ASST: Nathan Oystrick (4)
1 - 1 Tie
3rd Period
01:20
NYR
SHG - Ryan Callahan (7) ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (12), Wade Redden (12)
2 - 1 NYR
02:49
ATL
Ilya Kovalchuk (10) ASST: Boris Valabik (1), Chris Thorburn (2)
2 - 2 Tie
OT Period
00:18
NYR
Scott Gomez (5) ASST: Markus Naslund (12), Wade Redden (13)
3 - 2 NYR
penalty summary
1st Period
01:36
NYR
Brandon Dubinsky  Charging against  Nathan Oystrick
2nd Period
03:05
NYR
Lauri Korpikoski  Boarding against  Boris Valabik
10:52
ATL
Garnet Exelby  Roughing against  Scott Gomez
10:52
ATL
Ilya Kovalchuk  Roughing against  Scott Gomez
10:52
ATL
Ilya Kovalchuk  Roughing against  Scott Gomez
10:52
NYR
Scott Gomez  Roughing against  Ilya Kovalchuk
10:52
NYR
Scott Gomez  Roughing against  Ilya Kovalchuk
17:15
ATL
Ilya Kovalchuk  Slashing against  Scott Gomez
17:15
NYR
Scott Gomez  Slashing against  Ilya Kovalchuk
19:24
NYR
Chris Drury  Slashing against  Vyacheslav Kozlov
3rd Period
12:49
NYR
Brandon Dubinsky  Hi-sticking against  Eric Perrin
OT Period
NONE
goalie stats
Steve Valiquette
SA: 29TOI: 60:18
Saves: 27EV: 24 - 26
PIM: 0PP: 3 - 3
SV%: .931SH: 0 - 0
Johan Hedberg
Johan Hedberg
5-4-2
SA: 33TOI: 60:17
Saves: 30EV: 29 - 31
PIM: 0PP: 0 - 0
SV%: .909SH: 1 - 2
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