After the first period in tonight’s contest with the Montreal Canadiens, the feeling in Madison Square Garden was that the New York Rangers were hopeless and have pretty much hit rock bottom. From there, I do not know what was said in the locker room or who said it, but the Blueshirts had one of their largest offensive explosions of the season, scoring six unanswered goals to come back and defeat the Habs by a final score of 6-2. Almost all of the players who were underachieving or slumping heading into the night contributed in some way in this game, and all for a winning cause. This just may have been the best home ice win of the season so far.
Right off the opening faceoff, Sean Avery found himself taking a trip to the penalty box for finishing his check in the corner on what was a delayed icing call. This immediately gave the Canadiens the edge in momentum, and while they did not convert on the powerplay, they certainly generated plenty of chances. A minute later, Tomas Plekanec made a beautiful pass to find an open Mike Cammalleri who roofed a wrister over the shoulder of Lundqvist go up 1-0. So the exact start the Rangers did not want to occur did, and New York found themselves in a hole quickly. The series of unfortunate events continued when a controversial ruling led to Brian Gionta’s "baseball" goal at 14:50 of the first period. The Rangers exited the ice with boos raining down from their hometown fans.
It took only 57 seconds into the second stanza for the Blueshirts to start mounting their comeback, as Ryan Callahan directed a Gaborik pass into the net to cut the Candian lead to only one. Shortly after, the Rangers were on a 4 on 3 penalty-kill when Callahan stormed down the ice on a semi-breakaway , but was stoned by Habs netminder Jaroslav Halak. However, the trailing Brandon Dubinsky batted the puck out of the air and past Halak to tie the game at two. Towards the end of the second, Vinny Prospal showed tremendous patience to hold the puck and eventually feed Dubinsky for the tap-in and for what would be his second of the game. From this point on, the game got out of control and was comprised of some bizarre events.
First, Sean Avery went at it with Josh Gorges at center ice, and after taking him down, skated to the box waving his hands towards the crowd, which was rocking at that point. Then it was defenseman Wade Redden challenging Benoit Pouliot to a fight after a cheap hit on Enver Lisin behind the net. Redden also had the final say in the scrap with the takedown and may have displayed the most emotion since joining the Rangers last season. This was all indicative of how much this tilt meant to each club.
The excitement would not end there, though, as the scoring was not done. Ryan Callahan tipped home his second of the game when Chris Drury threw the puck on net from the circles. This would be the first powerplay goal in six games for the Rangers. This tally was actually reviewed as first look didn’t tell whether the puck crossed the goal line or not, but the video replay clearly showed that it did. Brandon Dubinsky followed that up by unselfishly feeding Marian Gaborik on a 2 on 1, when Gabs hammered home his 29th of the season to break a 5-game goal scoring drought and put his third point of the night on the board. Finally, Ryan Callahan laid a great pass on the tape of Chris Drury, who’s laser went off of Halak’s glove and in which would make the score a satisfying 6-2.
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There is a long list of players who had a spectacular game on this night, but the two standouts had to be youngsters Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. Callahan tied his career-high 4 points in a game and Dubinsky had three of his own. Both players essentially turned this thing around with their relentless effort and conversion on opportunities. Now you can look at Gaborik (3 points), Prospal (2 points), and Drury (2 points) who complimented Ryan and Brandon’s effort with a solid outing of their own.
I also thought Enver Lisin, Sean Avery, and Erik Christensen engaged themselves physically in this one. In fact, Avery got into a shouting match with Head Coach John Tortorella after taking a selfish penalty in the first period. Personally, I thought Avery was done for the night, but to my surprise, he was right back out there in the second and had a positive impact on the win.
Also engaging themselves physically were defensemen Wade Redden and Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto is beginning to establish himself as a gritty defenseman with all of the hitting and banging he brings to the ice on a nightly basis. Redden was a surprise, but as much as we hate on him, you have to give him credit for sticking up for his teammates tonight. That deserves respect no matter who the player is doing it.
And finally, there was the stellar goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist. No individual deserved a victory like this more than Lundqvist being that the guy has stood on his head for the past week but has received zero help from his offense. Tonight, he had that support and some.
The Ranges will have off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, but will be hosting the Lightning at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Tonight’s victory sees the Blueshirts regain sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and they are now within one point of the fifth place Boston Bruins.
[Note by Jim Schmiedeberg, 01/17/10 11:36 PM EST just wanted to add the post game from the Rangers on this joyous evening]
NEW YORK RANGERS POST-GAME NOTES
January 17, 2010 – New York Rangers 6, Montreal Canadiens 2 (Game #49, Home #26)
· The Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 6-2, tonight at Madison Square Garden, in a matchup between Original Six opponents; the Blueshirts have now recorded a point in 13 of their last 16 games (9-3-4).
· The six goals were the most recorded by New York in a game since they tallied seven goals on Nov. 23 vs. Columbus at Madison Square Garden; Callahan’s goal at 0:57 of the second period snapped a 147:02 scoring drought at home for the Rangers.
· New York have now posted a record of 23-19-7 (53 pts.) overall and 11-11-4 (26 pts.) at home this season; the Rangers improved to 9-2-1 (19 pts.) against the Northeast Division, and have out-scored their opponents, 39-22, in 12 games this season.
· Ryan Callahan tallied the Rangers’ first goal 57 seconds into the second period and finished with four points (two goals and two assists), including a power play goal at 4:56 of the third; the four points tied his career-high (last – Dec. 17, 2009 at NY Islanders), and he has now recorded 17 points (seven goals and 10 assists) in the last 19 games; Callahan also led all skaters with seven shots on goal, tying his career-high, and posted a plus-three rating.
· Brandon Dubinsky notched two goals, including one shorthanded tally and the game-winner, added one assist and posted a plus-three rating; his shorthanded goal at 8:28 of the second period was the first three-on-four goal scored by a Ranger since Adam Graves notched a three-on-four tally in the first period on Oct. 25, 1996 at Florida; Dubinsky also won a game-high 12 faceoffs, and registered an 80% (12-of-15) success rate in the faceoff circle.
· Marian Gaborik recorded his team-leading 18th multi-point performance (one goal and two assists), and finished with a plus-three rating; the Rangers improved to 12-5-1 when Gaborik registers two or more points
· Henrik Lundqvist made 18 saves to improve his record to 21-15-6 on the season; he has now held opponents to two or fewer goals in 17 of his last 20 games, posting a 10-5-5 mark, 1.76 goals against average and .942 save percentage over the span.
· Rangers Captain Chris Drury (one goal and one assist) and Alternate Captain Vinny Prospal (two assists) each registered two points; defensemen Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto recorded one assist apiece.
· Please note the Blueshirts do not have practice scheduled for tomorrow, Jan. 15.
· The Rangers return to action when they will face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in their fifth game in eight days; the game will be nationally televised live on Versus and can be heard on 1050 ESPN Radio.
John Tortorella on the team…
"After the first period, they kept themselves together. Even during the first period, although we were down 2-0, I thought we had some good minutes there as far as our forecheck was concerned. Everybody played. I think they played for one another, they stuck up for one another."
Ryan Callahan on the team’s confidence…
"It’s a big character game for us, not only to score six goals but to come back from a 2-0 deficit at home where we’ve been struggling of late. So it was a good game for us goal-wise but also we showed some character in the room."
Henrik Lundqvist on the team’s scoring…
"We score some goals. We feel the energy in the building, on the ice, on the bench and you get confidence. Sometimes you try and try and there is no result. It is tough to stay on the course. Sometimes you try to do too much. When it pays off like that you can feel the energy on the ice. We know we can score. It has just been a couple of games here where we have had a tough time doing it."