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• PHOTO GALLERY
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Matt Gilroy scored the game-winner, the first goal of his National Hockey League career, late in the second period to lead the Rangers past the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Monday night at the Prudential Center.
The Rangers have now won two games in a row after falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins on opening night.
Henrik Lundqvist allowed a pair of first-period goals, but not a single one thereafter, finishing with 25 saves. He is now 16-5-4 all-time against the Devils.
The Rangers did have to crawl out of a 1-0 hole just 70 seconds into play, with many of the players after the game crediting head coach John Tortorella for setting them straight seconds later, when he called timeout.
“I think you have to give (the players) credit for finding themselves and grinding one out,” countered Tortorella. “Early on, for the third game of the year, I think it’s important to win a type of game like this.”
In the dressing room following the game, team captain Chris Drury said, “We didn’t come out ready at the start of the game, and (Tortorella) let us know, and from that point on I thought we responded really well.”
Lundqvist made a one-goal lead stand up in the third period with an excellent right-pad save on Dainius Zubrus’ tricky shot from the right circle midway through. He and his teammates also escaped danger at the start of the third, when the Devils had 28 seconds worth of a 5-on-3 power play. New Jersey did not manage a shot on goal, and Drury made a clutch defensive play by clearing an attempted Brian Rolston shot the length of the ice to kill off most of the two-man disadvantage.
Gilroy had provided the Rangers with their first lead of the night late in the middle stanza by scoring his first NHL goal. The 25-year-old defenseman accepted a Marian Gaborik pass at the right circle and fired the puck between Martin Brodeur’s pads at 17:50 to put the Rangers up 3-2.
“(Brodeur) came across with his knee kind of weird and I was just able to slide it underneath,” said Gilroy, who led the team with six shots on goal. “I was wide open, and I was just trying to get my shot through, which is something I’ve been working on.”
As impressive as the goal was the patience Gilroy showed moments before the score. Gilroy carried the puck into the offensive zone one-on-five as his teammates were making a line change. Instead of turning the puck over or panicking, Gilroy instead circled along the right-wing boards until his fellow Rangers joined the play.
By controlling the puck as long as he did, Gilroy was able to set in motion the passing sequence that culminated in his own goal.
The two teams had played a wild back-and-forth first period in which four goals were scored, 18 minutes in penalties were called, and post-whistle get-togethers were the norm.
The Devils stormed the Rangers on the opening shift of the game with Lundqvist forced to make a great one-on-one save against Zach Parise only 34 seconds after the puck was dropped. Eight seconds later, Travis Zajac was alone in front set to take another point-blank shot at Lundqvist, but at the last second Gaborik reached in to poke the puck away.
Although they had just dodged two bullets less than a minute into the game, the Rangers were not as lucky at the 1:10 mark, when Rob Niedermeyer fired a right-circle shot past Lundqvist for an early 1-0 Devils lead. Jay Pandolfo earned the primary assist with some strong work in the right-wing corner before making the pass to Niedermeyer.
When his team still looked out of sorts after the next faceoff, Tortorella used his timeout only 1:24 into the contest. An animated Tortorella addressed his players during the timeout, and the team did settle down after the stoppage.
“I saw us watching people play,” said Tortorella in explaining why he called the timeout so early in the contest. “I was just shocked as far as how we were playing in our own end zone.”
The Rangers pulled even at 6:31 of the first when Michael Del Zotto recorded the club’s first power-play goal of the young season, and his second overall score in as many games. Del Zotto buried a rebound of Vinny Prospal’s right-wing shot by skating in deep on the left side and lifting the puck over New Jersey defenseman Paul Martin high into the net.
Momentum swung back to the home side at 10:52 when Zajac scored a power play goal to give New Jersey a 2-1 lead. With Brandon Dubinsky in the penalty box, the Devils had several good scoring chances -- including a perfect redirection in front by Zajac -- which Lundqvist denied. But the Rangers goalie was helpless when David Clarkson sent a gorgeous no-look backhand pass to Zajac alone at the top of the crease for the go-ahead score.
An extra minor penalty for roughing called against New Jersey’s Johnny Oduya after a scrum with Drury at 16:18 set the stage for the tying goal, scored by Ales Kotalik. A clean faceoff win by Prospal to the left of Brodeur put the scoring play in motion. Ryan Callahan moved the puck to Del Zotto, who in turn fed Kotalik for a wicked one-timer that screamed past Brodeur to the far side at 16:23.
Kotalik’s first goal as a Ranger tied the game 2-2, a score that held up to the first intermission. Considering how the game started, the Rangers had to feel somewhat good about the fact that they were even on the scoreboard after 20 minutes of play.
“We’ve been saying to each other let’s keep doing what we’ve been doing (on the power play) and it’s going to turn to us, and today we made some good plays and some pucks went into the net,” said Kotalik. “We have a lot of confidence with our power play.”
In the second period, the Rangers had a distinct territorial advantage for large stretches of play, though it did not pay off until Gilroy’s goal late in the period. In particular the Rangers were very strong on the puck deep in the Devils end of the ice, often controlling the puck along the walls or behind New Jersey’s net at will.
The fourth line -- consisting of Brian Boyle, Donald Brashear, and Aaron Voros -- set the tone three minutes into the second period with a prolonged shift of cycling the puck deep in the Devils zone. Try as they might, the Devils were unable to gain control of the puck, and Voros concluded the shift with a wraparound scoring attempt that was denied by an alert Brodeur.
Later on, midway through the middle stanza, Brashear fired a tricky slap shot from outside the blueline that fooled Brodeur into making a difficult off-balance pad save. Boyle also stood out late in the period with some strong work on the penalty kill after the Rangers had grabbed the 3-2 advantage.
As well as the Rangers played for much of the second period, Lundqvist was still forced into making several big-time stops, including quick glove saves on blasts off the sticks of Parise at 12:05 and Cory Murphy at 16:11.
Tortorella was most impressed with how his club was able to effectively shut down the Devils in the third period in order to secure the victory.
“In the third period we grinded it out,” said the head coach. “I was really encouraged in the third period where I think everyone contributed. I think we needed all four lines. And our fourth line gave us some tremendous shifts in the third period. It was very important for us to find a way to win a game like this.”
The Rangers will return to action on Thursday night when they travel down to Washington to face the Capitals for a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff series.
|Rob Niedermayer (1) ASST: Jay Pandolfo (1), David Clarkson (1)|
1 - 0 NJD
|PPG - Michael Del Zotto (2) ASST: Vinny Prospal (1), Ales Kotalik (1)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Travis Zajac (1) ASST: David Clarkson (2), Zach Parise (1)|
2 - 1 NJD
|PPG - Ales Kotalik (1) ASST: Michael Del Zotto (1), Ryan Callahan (1)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Matt Gilroy (1) ASST: Marian Gaborik (2), Vinny Prospal (2)|
3 - 2 NYR
|Michal Rozsival Interference against Jamie Langenbrunner|
|Ilkka Pikkarainen Hooking against Donald Brashear|
|Brian Rolston Holding against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Brandon Dubinsky Holding against Brian Rolston|
|Rod Pelley Tripping against Wade Redden|
|Chris Drury Kneeing against Paul Martin|
|Johnny Oduya Roughing against Chris Drury|
|Johnny Oduya Roughing against Chris Drury|
|Vinny Prospal Roughing against Paul Martin|
|David Clarkson Holding against Chris Drury|
|Bryce Salvador Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Michael Del Zotto Tripping against Rob Niedermayer|
|Ales Kotalik Hooking against Niclas Bergfors|
|Niclas Bergfors Diving against Marc Staal|
|Ryan Callahan Interference on goalkeeper against Martin Brodeur|
|Dan Girardi Boarding against Zach Parise|
|David Clarkson Roughing against Aaron Voros|
|Aaron Voros Roughing against David Clarkson|
|SA: 27||TOI: 59:58|
|Saves: 25||EV: 20 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 5|
|SV%: .926||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 26||TOI: 59:04|
|Saves: 23||EV: 21 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 1 - 3|
|SV%: .885||SH: 1 - 1|