|NYR||1||2||1||(0 - 0)||4|
|TOR||0||1||0||(0 - 0)||1|
• PHOTO GALLERY
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Neutralizing a desperate club looking for its first win of the season, the Rangers skated away with their seventh consecutive victory on Saturday night, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre 4-1.
The Rangers received brilliant goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, as well multiple-point efforts from Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik, in winning their seventh straight. Michael Del Zotto, an Ontario native, chipped in with his third goal of the season, skating in front of 70 family and friends.
The last time that the Rangers won seven straight was from Feb. 1-March 2, 2006. In their current winning streak, the Rangers have beaten the winless Maple Leafs twice, also besting Toronto 7-2 at Madison Square Garden this past Monday.
“Right now we have a lot of confidence,” said Lundqvist, who finished with 34 saves for the second straight game. “It was a good road win.”
The Maple Leafs have now lost six consecutive games in regulation, after dropping an overtime decision to the Montreal Canadiens on opening night, for an 0-6-1 start to the season.
Despite the fact that the Maple Leafs got off to strong starts in both the first and second periods, it was the Rangers who would win each period on the scoreboard.
In the opening stanza, Toronto attacked Lundqvist’s net with abandon, creating several excellent scoring chances from in tight. Lundqvist, though, showed great resolve in not allowing the Leafs to throw off his concentration, and, instead, made one strong save after another in the opening 20 minutes.
Lundqvist was particularly solid during Toronto’s first power play, seven minutes into the game, when he made four saves, including a pair on booming Francois Beauchemin slap shots. His most spectacular save occurred at 13:37 when he used a quick right pad to thwart Jason Blake’s breakaway out of the penalty box.
“The key for me is to be patient all the time,” said Lundqvist. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a breakaway or a shot from the blueline. I just need to wait for it. When you have confidence, and the guys are playing great in front of you, it’s a lot easier.”
After making the save on Blake, Lundqvist was bowled over by Lee Stempniak, the third time already in the first period that the Rangers’ netminder had been hit by a Maple Leafs player. Just two minutes earlier Rangers center Brian Boyle shoved Blake into the back boards after the Leafs’ pesky forward whacked away at Lundqvist following a scoring opportunity. And at 9:30, Dubinsky collared Toronto’s John Mitchell after the Leafs forward plowed Lundqvist into the back of his own net.
Lundqvist retained his poise and stopped all 14 Toronto shots in the opening period. And he was rewarded for his excellent play, when Dubinsky scored an unassisted goal at the 16-minute mark to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
Dubinsky intercepted a pass deep in his own zone after a pair of Leafs collided in the low slot. The Rangers centerman then took off the other way, creating a 3-on-1 rush with Gaborik and Del Zotto. Dubinsky skated to the right-wing circle in the Maple Leafs zone and fired a shot off the near post and into the net for his third goal of the season.
The goal by Dubinsky put Toronto in familiar territory. The Maple Leafs have let the opposition score the first goal in all seven of their games so far this season.
And despite an excellent start to the second period, things would get much worse for the Leafs as the Rangers would score twice more early in the middle stanza to grab a 3-0 lead.
“A couple times during the game we got into a little tough time clearing pucks, but we didn’t panic,” said Lundqvist. “We stayed in control, and then we scored at the right time again.”
Marc Staal shed the check of defenseman Jeff Finger, carried the puck from left to right behind the Maple Leafs net, and then sent a wraparound shot past Joey MacDonald for his first goal of the season at 4:36 of the second period, and the Rangers upped their lead to 2-0.
Then 1:11 later, Del Zotto whizzed a left-circle shot between MacDonald’s pads for a power play goal to put the Rangers up by three. Gaborik, who had assisted on Staal’s goal, picked up another helper on Del Zotto’s third of the season as it was his right-wing shot that hit the far post which led to the rookie defenseman’s goal. Gaborik has now notched at least one point in all eight games this season, and he leads the club with 12 points.
“I (was) excited to be in this building,” Del Zotto said of his first match in Toronto, near his hometown of Stouffville. “I grew up watching the Leafs, obviously, and came here to watch a few games. So it’s just a dream come true to play in this building”
The Maple Leafs, who dominated the first few minutes of the second period with a ferocious forecheck -- but were held off the scoreboard by a sharp Lundqvist -- finally broke through just 21 seconds after Del Zotto’s goal. After Lundqvist made three outstanding sprawling saves, Ian White poke the loose puck into the cage for his first of the season at 6:08, capping a wild 90-second sequence n which the two teams totaled three goals.
Though the scoring was finished for the second period, the two teams continued to wage quite the physical battle until the second intermission arrived. And it seemed that Sean Avery was involved in many of the scrums, with Staal, Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Donald Brashear also extremely physical with their play.
Enver Lisin scored his first goal as a member of the Rangers 2:26 into the third period to secure the visitors’ seventh consecutive victory. Lisin skated through the slot and collected the puck after Wade Redden’s left-point shot was partially blocked, and whipped it into the net for a 4-1 Rangers lead.
After Lisin’s score, the Rangers put a complete lockdown on the rest of the match. And now the team can look ahead to Monday night at The Garden, when the Rangers will look to earn their eighth straight win as they skate against a very talented San Jose Sharks club.
If they can beat the Sharks, the Blueshirts will make some history, since no Rangers team has won eight consecutive regular-season games since the 1974-75 season. The 1993-94 Stanley Cup championship team’s longest win streak was seven games, although that team had a 12-game unbeaten streak (11-0-1) in the era when ties were still a part of the NHL. The Rangers' record for consecutive victories is 10, last accomplished in 1972-73.
|Brandon Dubinsky (3) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 NYR
|Marc Staal (1) ASST: Marian Gaborik (5), Brandon Dubinsky (5)|
2 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Michael Del Zotto (3) ASST: Marian Gaborik (6), Vinny Prospal (8)|
3 - 0 NYR
|Ian White (1) ASST: Niklas Hagman (2)|
3 - 1 NYR
|Enver Lisin (1) ASST: Wade Redden (3), Michal Rozsival (3)|
4 - 1 NYR
|Brandon Dubinsky Interference against John Mitchell|
|Jason Blake Slashing against Brian Boyle|
|Michael Del Zotto Slashing against Jason Blake|
|Brian Boyle Cross checking against Alexei Ponikarovsky|
|Alexei Ponikarovsky Slashing against Ryan Callahan|
|Viktor Stalberg Hooking against Ryan Callahan|
|Donald Brashear Charging against Jeff Finger|
|Artem Anisimov Holding against Viktor Stalberg|
|Luke Schenn Cross checking against Artem Anisimov|
|Michal Rozsival Hooking against Jay Rosehill|
|SA: 35||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 34||EV: 27 - 28|
|PIM: 0||PP: 6 - 6|
|SV%: .971||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 28||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 24||EV: 19 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 6|
|SV%: .857||SH: 0 - 0|