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• PHOTO GALLERY
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Picking up exactly where they left off on Sunday, the Rangers blitzed the Tampa Bay Lightning 8-2 on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, just 48 hours after routing the Montreal Canadiens 6-2.
Marian Gaborik tied a career-high with four assists for the Rangers, while eight different players notched goals for the Blueshirts. Sixteen of the Rangers’ 18 skaters recorded at least one point in the game, tying the franchise record.
Henrik Lundqvist earned his 22nd victory of the season by turning aside 21 shots.
“Everyone was on top of their game, and it was huge for everyone’s confidence,” said Gaborik, who now has 61 points on the season, including seven in the last two. “It was one of those nights where everything was going in. We deserved it. We played physical, and I think we played well as a team.”
On Tuesday against the Lightning, the Rangers displayed the same passion right from the first drop of the puck as they had over the final two periods on Sunday. Only 10 seconds into the game Aaron Voros brought the home crowd to its collective feet with a long heavyweight fight with Tampa’s Zenon Konopka. A little more than a minute later, the Rangers had a 1-0 lead.
“We had a pretty emotional rise built in the last game against Montreal,” said Tortorella. “It’s not about brawling or fighting, it’s about the same intensity. It’s part of the game, and AV responded. That (fourth) line gave us quite a bit of juice.”
Brandon Dubinsky, one of the heroes on Sunday with a pair of goals and an assist, put the Rangers in front at 1:26 converting his own rebound for a power-play goal. Gaborik earned the first of his four assists on the play by feeding Vinny Prospal behind the net. Prospal then found Dubinsky alone in front for the score.
Prospal doubled the Rangers’ advantage at 7:05, scoring his ninth goal of the season. Marc Staal started the play with a quick, though deflected, breakout pass to Gaborik. The alert Gaborik cycled back to the puck and chipped it ahead to Prospal, who received the pass in full stride on left wing. Prospal and Gaborik took off on a 2-on-1 rush, with Prospal finishing it off with a shifty backhand.
“It feels great scoring eight goals, especially after the big win we had here the previous game,” Prospal said. “It feels great that we were able to, right from the start, shut them down and run up the score.”
Two minutes later Enver Lisin just missed putting the Rangers up 3-0. Off a 2-on-2 rush, Lisin snapped a wicked shot from left wing that beat Tampa goalie Antero Niittymaki, but clanged off the post and stayed out of the net.
The Lightning scored a fluky goal with 2:39 remaining in the first to cut the Rangers’ lead in half. Vincent Lecavalier got in behind the Rangers’ defense, but was stoned by Lundqvist. However Lecavalier recovered the puck behind the net, and his centering feed caromed off of both Christopher Higgins and Lundqvist and then over the goal line.
Undaunted by the goal, the Rangers came back and scored a minute later to restore their two-goal lead. Ryan Callahan’s shot from a sharp angle on right wing bounced off Niittymaki’s pads and out between the circles where Chris Drury hammered it into the net for his eighth goal of the season, and second in as many games, with 1:27 left in the opening period.
“You may not think you have an important moment after an 8-2 game, but that was to answer back,” said Tortorella. “It was important that Dru comes back and scores that goal and gives us a two-goal lead after the first.”
Though the Rangers did not score as many goals in the second period as they did in the first, they dominated play in a much more decisive fashion, limiting the Lightning to only five shots on goal while physically banging them all over the ice.
The first two minutes of the middle stanza featured three great scoring chances that went for naught. Lecavalier was robbed by Lundqvist after once again sneaking behind the Rangers’ defense just one minute into the period. Then during a Tampa power play, the Rangers had a pair of shorthanded breakaways -- the first by Dubinsky, who was denied by Niittymaki’s right pad, and the other by Brian Boyle, who stopped short of the blue paint and fired a shot off the post.
The Rangers finally did register that elusive fourth goal of the night at the 5:23 mark of the second period. After a long sustained shift in the offensive zone, Gaborik slid the puck back to Dan Girardi at the right point, and the sturdy defenseman fired a long slap shot past the gloved hand of Niittymaki for his fifth goal of the season.
“It was just one of those games,” Gaborik said of his four-assist effort. “I try to draw people to me and guys were getting open. I think it was a team effort.”
Lisin made it 5-1 at 15:39 by burying his sixth goal, driving Niittymaki from the game in the process. Matt Gilroy made the play with an impressive right-wing rush and shot. Niittymaki made the save, but did not control the rebound, and Lisin drove the puck into the back of the cage.
Niittymaki, who surrendered five goals on 20 shots, was replaced by rookie Dustin Tokarski. After the Lightning had scored a 5-on-3 power play goal by Alex Tanguay late in the second, the Rangers put one behind Tokarski early in the third to secure their second straight six-goal performance.
Staal stepped up to join the rush and he buried a feed from Dubinsky at 6:04 to make the score 6-2. Gaborik earned his fourth assist of the night on the play.
“When our forecheck is working well, we create a lot of turnovers in the neutral zone,” said Staal. “Once we do that we get some odd-man rushes. It was nice the last couple of games to hit the back of the net. Hopefully it keeps rolling from this.”
The icing on the cake came with 8:49 left to play. Voros redirected a perfect centering feed from Boyle into the net for his first goal since Nov. 28, 2008, a span of 51 games played, as Tortorella rewarded his fourth line with power play time.
“I just went to the front of the net, and I feel like that’s my area,” said Voros. “Brian made a great pass. I just put my stick down and he hit it. It was very nice to get that off my back.”
Voros’ active night came to an end amidst the cheers of “Voros! Voros!” after he and Ryan Malone engaged in a wild fight three minutes after his goal.
“I am very happy for the guy,” Tortorella said of Voros. “He is very well-liked by his teammates. Good for him.”
Higgins closed out the scoring, etching his name on the scoresheet with 3:28 remaining in the game.
These two huge home wins now behind them, the Rangers take to the road for a pair of very important conference match-ups later in the week. They first head to Philadelphia to face the Flyers on Thursday before travelling up to Montreal for a rematch with the Canadiens on Saturday night.
|PPG - Brandon Dubinsky (11) ASST: Vinny Prospal (27), Marian Gaborik (29)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Vinny Prospal (9) ASST: Marian Gaborik (30), Marc Staal (13)|
2 - 0 NYR
|Vincent Lecavalier (13) ASST: Steve Downie (13)|
2 - 1 NYR
|Chris Drury (8) ASST: Ryan Callahan (15), Erik Christensen (5)|
3 - 1 NYR
|Dan Girardi (5) ASST: Marian Gaborik (31), Michael Del Zotto (18)|
4 - 1 NYR
|Enver Lisin (6) ASST: Matt Gilroy (4), Chris Higgins (7)|
5 - 1 NYR
|PPG - Alex Tanguay (8) ASST: Steven Stamkos (23), Martin St. Louis (42)|
5 - 2 NYR
|Marc Staal (5) ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (17), Marian Gaborik (32)|
6 - 2 NYR
|PPG - Aaron Voros (1) ASST: Brian Boyle (2), Sean Avery (14)|
7 - 2 NYR
|Chris Higgins (6) ASST: Wade Redden (7), Matt Gilroy (5)|
8 - 2 NYR
|Aaron Voros Fighting against Zenon Konopka|
|Zenon Konopka Fighting against Aaron Voros|
|Vincent Lecavalier Interference against Ryan Callahan|
|Enver Lisin Interference against Brandon Bochenski|
|Michal Rozsival Slashing against Vincent Lecavalier|
|Chris Drury Hooking against Steven Stamkos|
|Steve Downie Roughing against Wade Redden|
|Vinny Prospal Cross checking against Paul Szczechura|
|Erik Christensen Hooking against Brandon Bochenski|
|Zenon Konopka Holding against Aaron Voros|
|Zenon Konopka Misconduct|
|Ryan Malone Fighting against Aaron Voros|
|Aaron Voros Fighting against Ryan Malone|
|Brandon Dubinsky Fighting against Jeff Halpern|
|Jeff Halpern Fighting against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Jeff Halpern Roughing against Brandon Dubinsky|
|SA: 20||TOI: 35:39|
|Saves: 15||EV: 9 - 13|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 3|
|SV%: .750||SH: 4 - 4|
|SA: 11||TOI: 24:21|
|Saves: 8||EV: 8 - 10|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 1|
|SV%: .727||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 23||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 21||EV: 18 - 19|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 4|
|SV%: .913||SH: 0 - 0|