|WSH||0||1||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|NYR||0||2||1||(0 - 0)||3|
• PHOTO GALLERY
• Brashear Determined to 'Win Their Hearts' at Garden
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Marian Gaborik scored a pair of goals and picked up an assist, and Christopher Higgins scored the game-winning goal with just 1:10 remaining in the third period, as the Rangers won their third straight preseason game -- beating the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Brandon Dubinsky, who was playing in his first game of the preseason, absorbed a big hit to the side of the Capitals net, but was able to slip the puck to Higgins, and Higgins chipped it past goalie Jose Theodore for the game-winner.
Dubinsky turned in a strong performance, playing with his usual gusto at even strength, on the power play, and on the penalty kill. He logged 17:43 worth of ice-time, won 65 percent of his faceoffs, picked up an assist, and finished with a plus-2 plus-minus rating on the night.
“I was certainly a little nervous before the game, that’s for sure,” said Dubinsky. “I jumped out there and felt good right from the get-go. I didn’t feel like I was fighting the puck or fighting my legs at all, so it felt nice.”
Playing in his second game of the preseason, Gaborik scored his first two goals in a Rangers uniform during the second period.
His first goal came just 36 seconds into the middle stanza while the Rangers were skating shorthanded, and his second was off a rebound at 12:37.
Both goals scored by Gaborik provided the Rangers the lead, and both featured his trademark quick release.
“He’s just one of those game-breakers we didn’t have last year, and it’s exciting,” Dubinsky said of Gaborik. “He’s going to be a guy to score big goals for us when we need them.”
While helping to kill a penalty to open the second period, Gaborik collected an errant John Erskine pass near the Caps blueline and then broke in alone on Theodore. Gaborik chose not to make a deke, instead opting to snap a laser between Theodore’s pads to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
“It was just on a change, and Gabby came off the bench, and it’s funny how it works with those guys, the puck just follows ‘em around,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “That was a pretty big play.”
After the Caps had tied the game at 8:51 on an Alexander Semin goal, Gaborik quickly fired a rebound of a Vinny Prospal shot past Theodore to put the Blueshirts up 2-1.
Playing a big part on Gaborik’s second goal was Dubinsky. Back in the Rangers’ end of the ice, Dubinsky crushed Semin into the right-wing boards, prompting Semin to haul down the Rangers’ center. With the referee’s arm raised signaling a delayed penalty, the Rangers skated the other way with the play culminating in Gaborik’s score.
Dubinsky showed no rust from having missed the first week of training camp, as well as the first five games of the preseason. The 23-year-old Dubinsky centered wingers Enver Lisin and Ryan Callahan early in the game and Gaborik and Higgins later in the contest.
“We all know (Dubi) did not want to be sitting out, and I wish he didn’t miss any time,” said Tortorella. “I think he’s got a little extra incentive and I think he’s happy to be back playing. And I thought he played really well.”
As he has throughout the entire preseason, Lisin was once again in the middle of many of the Rangers best scoring chances. Lisin, who finished with three shots on goal, unleashed several quality shots himself, while also creating chances for his linemates.
Evgeny Grachev, like Lisin a talented young Russian winger trying to make the opening-night roster, also had some bright moments while skating with Chris Drury and Ales Kotalik. His best play took place with 55 seconds left in the second period when he made a brilliant pass to Drury in the slot that led to a point-blank scoring opportunity for the Rangers captain. The fact that Theodore made an excellent pad save took nothing away from the scintillating play made by the 19-year-old Grachev.
All was not perfect for the Rangers on Thursday, however. For example, the Capitals tied the game at the 17-minute mark of the middle stanza when Keith Aucoin finished off a 3-on-1 rush with only defenseman Alexei Semenov back for the Rangers to tie the game 2-2.
Lundqvist had no chance to stop Aucoin’s easy tap-in, but he was once again very sharp between the pipes for the Blueshirts. For the first time this preseason, Lundqvist went the distance, playing the entire game. He made several sensational saves along the way, including a toe save and right-pad stop in succession early in the first period, and a deft poke-check on an open Chris Clark five minutes into the second. Lundqvist also made three clutch saves during a late third-period penalty kill that set the stage for Higgins’ game-winning tally.
With Lundqvist clearly feeling the start of the regular season right around the corner, so, too, was Donald Brashear gearing up his game for Oct. 2. Brashear racked up 12 minutes in penalties, twice fighting Washington’s Brandon Sugden. Their bout two minutes into the third period was exceptionally long, with both men landing several big blows and Brashear hearing a rousing cheer from The Garden Faithful.
“Summer is over and we’re getting closer to the regular season, so we’re starting to get serious,” said Brashear.
The Rangers will conclude their pre-season schedule on Sunday afternoon in a rematch against the Capitals down in Washington. The regular season will commence on Oct. 2 in Pittsburgh, with the home opener against the Ottawa Senators the following evening.
|SHG - Marian Gaborik (1) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 NYR
|Marian Gaborik (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Vinny Prospal (1), Chris Higgins (1)|
2 - 1 NYR
|Keith Aucoin (1) Tip-in - ASST: Alex Ovechkin (1)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Chris Higgins (1) Tip-in - ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (1), Marian Gaborik (1)|
3 - 2 NYR