|NYR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
|ANA||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
• PHOTO GALLERY
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Behind the bench for his 300th game as head coach of the Rangers, Tom Renney watched his team play one of its most complete matches of the season, as the Blueshirts opened up their three-game swing through California with a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on Tuesday evening.
“I thought we played 200 by 85 like a real intelligent team, and we had the requisite passion,” said Renney. “I think we were all committed to it tonight, quite honestly. We managed the game well by managing the puck well.”
Nigel Dawes scored the game-winning goal with only 3:16 remaining in the third period. After stealing the puck at the top of the right-wing circle in the offensive zone, Dawes flipped the puck past Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger, collected his own pass, and then was able to sneak a shot through goalie Jonas Hiller’s pads for his fourth goal of the season, snapping a 1-1 tie and giving the Rangers a late 2-1 lead.
“We wanted to go out and start this road trip on the right foot,” said Dawes. “I think we definitely did that.”
Nikolai Zherdev was credited with his 11th goal when he was pulled down on a breakaway by Pronger with Hiller pulled for an extra attacker with 0.5 seconds left to play, mere seconds after Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made one last great save at the other end of the ice.
Sharp all night, Lundqvist earned his league-best 18th victory by stopping 19 of the 20 shots he faced.
“This is a very good hockey team we were playing here,” said Renney. “If you give them the opportunity to counter-attack and go hard to the net, they do that. But we were able to withstand that, and when we couldn’t, Henrik was there as usual.”
The win was the second in a row for the Rangers, who defeated the Hurricanes 3-2 in a game decided by the shootout Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The loss snapped Anaheim’s five-game winning streak on home ice.
The Rangers, who now have 21 wins and 44 points on the season, moved to within two points of the idle Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Chris Drury opened the scoring after taking advantage of a rare defensive-zone mistake by Anaheim captain Scott Niedermeyer 2:23 into the second period. Under pressure from forechecking Rangers’ forward Lauri Korpikoski, Niedermeyer partially fanned on a clearing attempt. Drury cut in to intercept the puck before it could reach the blueline and then skated in a few strides before snapping a shot past Hiller for an unassisted goal, his ninth of the season.
The captain of the Blueshirts had not scored since Nov. 19 against the Canucks at The Garden, a span of 12 games. But, coming off the shootout game-winner Saturday vs. the Hurricanes, Drury snapped his personal skid on Tuesday night to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead.
The score remained that way, even though the Rangers dominated much of the middle stanza. Anaheim did not record its first shot of the period until more than eight minutes had elapsed off of the game clock, and the Ducks took only five shots on goal the entire second stanza.
However, a late flurry of three shots resulted in the tying goal being scored by the Ducks with 1:30 remaining before the second intermission. Moments after successfully killing off a Rangers’ power play, the Ducks scooted up ice on a three-on-three rush. Chris Kunitz fired a shot that handcuffed Lundqvist, with the puck hitting his glove awkwardly before falling at the feet of Anaheim’s Bret Hedican. The veteran defenseman swatted the puck towards a seemingly-empty cage, but Lundqvist made a sensational, acrobatic save.
Kunitz, though, was able to collect the loose puck and fire it into the back of the net for his eighth of the season, tying the game 1-1.
It was a frustrating goal surrendered by the Rangers, in particular for Lundqvist who was excellent in the first period, but not tested until the final two minutes in the middle session.
Lundqvist’s first stellar save came 11:52 into the contest when he robbed Todd Marchant, who was all alone five feet out in front, with a sharp pad stop. He then stoned Corey Perry with a right pad save after Perry had split in between Rangers’ defensemen Dmitri Kalinin and Paul Mara at 16:54 of the first.
“I think he really played well out there,” defenseman Marc Staal said of Lundqvist. “And I think we were really solid out there, too, and did not give up too many chances against.”
The Rangers had the better of the scoring chances over the first 40 minutes, putting 20 shots on goal as compared to 12 for the Ducks. Fredrik Sjostrom and Markus Naslund each snapped shots that greatly tested Hiller’s glove in the first period, only to come away empty.
And in the second, Zherdev stole the puck deep in the offensive zone and fed a wide-open Korpikoski on the doorstep. Hiller, though, burst across his crease from left to right to make a terrific save.
For the most part, both teams played very well defensively, and both played with a physical edge. However, in a bit of a surprise considering Anaheim’s penchant for accruing fighting majors, there was only one bout of fisticuffs in the game, and it did not come until early in the third period.
Rugged Rangers’ winger Aaron Voros paired off with Anaheim defenseman Steve Montador 1:53 into the final period. In close to one another, Voros three punches at Montador’s head, while Montador fired body shots in return. The fight finally ended with both players still on their feet, but too exhausted to throw any more punches after the long bout.
The true knockout punch, though, was delivered by Dawes later on in the final stanza. And it was one that has jumpstarted this important three game road trip, which continues Wednesday night in Los Angeles with a tilt against the Kings.
“We have back-to-back games here, and this is a great one to build off of going into LA,” said Dawes. “We want to go in there and continue to play like we did tonight and continue a strong road trip.”
|Chris Drury (9) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 NYR
|Chris Kunitz (8) ASST: Bret Hedican (2), Ryan Carter (5)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Nigel Dawes (4) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 NYR
|PPG - EN - Nikolay Zherdev (11) ASST: NONE|
3 - 1 NYR
|Markus Naslund Hooking against Travis Moen|
|Chris Kunitz Tripping against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Paul Mara Holding against Bobby Ryan|
|Bret Hedican Holding the stick against Lauri Korpikoski|
|Aaron Voros Fighting (maj) against Steve Montador|
|Steve Montador Fighting (maj) against Aaron Voros|
|Brandon Dubinsky Holding against Brendan Morrison|
|Ryan Getzlaf Roughing against Michal Rozsival|
|Michal Rozsival Slashing against Ryan Getzlaf|
|Chris Kunitz Hi stick - double minor against Dan Girardi|
|Ryan Getzlaf Slashing against Markus Naslund|
|SA: 20||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 19||EV: 16 - 17|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 3|
|SV%: .950||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 29||TOI: 59:29|
|Saves: 27||EV: 23 - 25|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 4|
|SV%: .931||SH: 0 - 0|