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• PHOTO GALLERY
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
For the second time in 11 days, P.A. Parenteau scored the game-winning goal in the shootout as the Rangers edged the Florida Panthers 2-1 in team captain Chris Drury’s return to the lineup on Wednesday night at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.
Parenteau, the Rangers’ second shooter in the shootout, patiently skated towards Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun, veered to his left, waited for an opening, and then whipped a forehand shot inside the far post for the eventual game-winner. On Nov. 14 in Ottawa, Parenteau scored the game-deciding goal in the seventh round of the shootout, another 2-1 Rangers’ victory.
Henrik Lundqvist iced the win by denying Stephen Weiss’ shot with a quick glove stop in the third round of the shootout. Lundqvist stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout, and finished regulation and overtime with 25 saves.
The Rangers, now 2-0 in games decided by the shootout this season, have won two games in a row for the first time since Oct. 14 to 17.
During the five-minute overtime period, Vokoun excelled for the Panthers, stopping all seven shots that the Rangers fired at him, several of which came during a failed power play after Radek Dvorak high-sticked Ryan Callahan 39 seconds into the extra session. Marian Gaborik recorded three of the Rangers’ shots in overtime.
Drury took a regular shift, centering Callahan and Enver Lisin at even strength, was a key part of the Rangers’ penalty kill, and played the point alongside Michael Del Zotto on the first power-play unit in his first game action since suffering a concussion on Nov. 7 in Calgary. It was on the power play that Drury earned the primary assist on Gaborik’s goal late in the second period.
All told, Drury logged more than 22 minutes worth of ice-time, and played a very strong all-around game.
While Drury returned to the lineup, winger Ales Kotalik missed his first game of the season with an unspecified injury suffered during Monday’s 7-4 home-ice win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. And then less than five minutes into the game, the Rangers lost another key player to injury.
Veteran defenseman Wade Redden was hammered into the boards behind the Rangers net by 6-foot-3, 215 pound Victor Oreskovich just 4:24 into the opening period, and skated off the ice in obvious pain. Redden headed straight to the dressing room and did not return for the remainder of the contest with an unspecified injury.
The Rangers lost another defenseman early in the third period. Matt Gilroy jumped to the defense of teammate Vinny Prospal after Oreskovich hit him with a hard high check at the 5:42 mark of the final stanza. Gilroy engaged Oreskovich in his first career fight, ending up with an instigator penalty, 17 minutes worth of penalties, and a cut on his face for his troubles.
Gilroy’s teammates picked it up for the rookie, however, killing off Florida’s ensuing power play. And the Rangers’ penalty killers, led by an extremely sharp Lundqvist in goal, did the job again at 7:47 -- mere seconds after Gilroy’s instigator penalty had expired -- stopping the Panthers after an interference penalty called on Prospal to preserve their precarious 1-0 lead.
However, a turnover in their own zone cost the Rangers with 4:53 left to play in regulation. Dominic Moore took the puck away from Sean Avery, skated several strides between the circles, and then sent a wrist shot past a screened Lundqvist to pull the Panthers even 1-1.
The Rangers controlled much of the action over the first two periods of play, but still found themselves locked in a scoreless battle with the Panthers. That is until they were awarded a power play -- their third of the game -- with 2:15 to go in the middle stanza.
Excellent puck control in the offensive zone by the Rangers wore down the Florida penalty killers, who could not get off the ice. After a pair of good saves by Vokoun, the Rangers worked the puck to Drury who fired a slap shot just to the left of the net, where it was smartly deflected by Gaborik into the cage with just 24.4 seconds remaining in the period.
For how well they had played over the first 40 minutes, the Rangers deserved the lead they carried into the second intermission. Though they had not generated a plethora of scoring chances themselves, the Rangers had thoroughly shut down the Panthers, and neutralized Florida through center ice all night long.
That they did it with only five defensemen after Redden’s injury was all the more impressive. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi picked up the bulk of the slack with extra playing time, and both young defensemen were solid in their own end. Del Zotto was very active in both ends of the ice, and he saw his first penalty killing work this season in the absence of Redden.
With Gilroy missing much of the third period, the ice-times for the four remaining defensemen skyrocketed. Staal played a season-high 30:24 and Del Zotto played a career-high 28:21.
Along with playing an intelligent game, the Rangers also were rugged in the physical aspect of the contest, too. Callahan, in particular, took the body at every turn, with many of his teammates following suit. Artem Anisimov’s line, with Avery and Parenteau on the wings, was very strong on the forecheck and created several excellent scoring chances with their physical play.
Perhaps the Rangers’ best player for much of the game was Christopher Higgins, who was a beast on the forecheck while skating with Gaborik and Prospal. The Long Island native rang a shot off the post 11:53 into the first period after carrying the puck down left wing and around the Panthers net before coming out to the right of the goal. And 6:46 into the second period, Higgins was robbed by a sprawling Vokoun after a tic-tac-toe power play passing sequence by Avery and Gilroy.
Higgins also excelled on the penalty kill, where the Rangers were a perfect five-for-five on Wednesday night. He and Brian Boyle helped kill one second-period Florida power play by recording a pair of shorthanded scoring chances -- one for each Rangers forward -- and pinning the puck for a long stretch in the Panthers zone.
It was an impressive display by the Rangers’ penalty killers all night long, just another reason why the visitors were able to open up their three-game road trip with a solid 2-1 victory.
Next up for the Rangers, following an off-day on Thanksgiving, is a battle with the Lightning in Tampa on Friday night, followed by a clash with the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
|Jordan Leopold Tripping against Enver Lisin|
|Ryan Callahan Slashing against Nathan Horton|
|Marian Gaborik Slashing against Radek Dvorak|
|Bryan McCabe Hi-sticking against Sean Avery|
|Brian Boyle Tripping against Steve Reinprecht|
|Steve MacIntyre Fighting (maj) against Donald Brashear|
|Donald Brashear Fighting (maj) against Steve MacIntyre|
|Dennis Seidenberg Interference against Artem Anisimov|
|Matt Gilroy Instigator against Victor Oreskovich|
|Matt Gilroy Fighting (maj) against Victor Oreskovich|
|Matt Gilroy Misconduct (10 min)|
|Victor Oreskovich Fighting (maj) against Matt Gilroy|
|Vinny Prospal Interference against Steve Reinprecht|
|Radek Dvorak Hi-sticking against Ryan Callahan|
|SA: 26||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 25||EV: 21 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: .962||SH: 2 - 2|
|SA: 28||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 27||EV: 20 - 20|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 6|
|SV%: .964||SH: 2 - 2|