All of the hype heading into the game was about Sean Avery playing against the team who changed the course of his career by pretty much dumping him after making an inappropriate comment on television. Well, Sean of course responded with his mouth, but the biggest impact he made was on the scoreboard. Sean scored or assisted on four of the five Ranger goals, leading them to their defeat of the visiting Dallas Stars. When looking at the team performance as a whole, the Rangers played a solid game on home ice, and looked like the team we thought they would be entering this season.
To begin the game, the Blueshirts did not have their legs and were struggling in their own zone. This lead to Brad Richards sending an intended pass through the slot, when the puck redirected off of a sliding Marc Staal, off Lundqvist's skate, and into the back of the net just two minutes in. However, it was Sean Avery who answered shortly after when he beat Dallas netminder Marty Turco with a quick slapshot along the boards for a powerplay goal. This tally would end a 19-game goal drought for Aves. The play was started by Matt Gilroy, who made a great pass to spring Avery, and resulted in the rookie defenseman registering his first point since being recalled by the Rangers after his stint with the Hartford Wolf Pack down in the AHL. That would not be the end of Avery in the period, though. The pesky forward made a sneaky pass to Gaborik in the slot, where Marian's backhander went through the legs of Turco and in to make it 2-1.
To begin the second stanza, Chris Drury executed the deflection perfectly, probably the best of the season for the Captain, on a Jere Lehtinen slapper from the point. This would tie the game for Dallas at two for the time being. It was then Avery again who got the puck to Kotalik in the neutral zone. Kotalik wound up and blasted a shot off the post and in for his second goal in two games, and what would turn out to be the game-winner. If Kotalik can take that shot and hit the net with it more often, he could have a higher goal total on the season for sure.
Anyway, the third period was pretty much all special teams as both teams were being called for penalties left and right. Once things calmed down a bit at about the halfway mark, the Blueshirts started applying the pressure to the Stars and creating some great chances. The best may have been when Erik Christensen had an open net, but Skrastins dove through the crease to block it. The second best was when Sean Avery (heard his name enough yet?) made a spin-around pass to set-up Chirs Drury for a tap-in to make it 4-2 New York. This was a remarkable play by Avery; the spin-o-rama, the pass, just everything about it was beautiful. And finally, Ryan Callahan deposited the empty-netter to put a bow on the Blueshirts 5-2 victory over the Stars.
Continue Reading After the Jump>>
This is the most I have ever put the name Sean Avery into one of my postgame recaps in the past two seasons. What might have been the top performance of his entire career, Avery was dominant in every aspect. His four-points tied his career high in a single game. I think there should be a new accomplishment in the sport of hockey. "The Sean Avery Hat-Trick", consisting of a goal, an assist, and a game misconduct. All three were a part of Sean's game tonight, as he played with an edge that got to goaltender Marty Turco and the rest of the Stars. Now we must hope he can continue to play this way. Oh, and I almost forgot; to cap-off the night, Avery had a great exchange with MSG Network's Stan Fischler after the game.
Stan Fischler to Avery: "What was different for you tonight?" and Avery's response: "Well, I was being paid by two teams"
Special teams played a big part in the contest, especially the penalty-kill which was a perfect six for six. You can thank Henrik Lundqvist for that, because the star goaltender was fantastic on this night. Hank made 25 saves in this one, and the two that got by him were deflected by his own teammates in front of him. There were times where the Blueshirts were quite sloppy in their own zone, but Lundqvist was there to bail them out.
Erik Christensen put up yet another assist while playing on the first line and now has five points in his last four games. It is good to know that Christensen has the ability to be consistent on this team, because when Vinny Prospal returns, Erik can be moved to the second or third line in hopes of making a difference.
Besides the turnovers in front of Lundqvist in the first period, the Rangers blueline had their second consecutive solid effort. Mike Del Zotto still impresses me, now with the way he is quickly becoming responsible in his own zone. At first, it was his offense that had everyone in awe, but now he is growing rapidly on the defensive end of the puck.
So with this win, the Rangers have won two straight and are 7-1-2 in their last ten games. They also scored more than two goals in back-to-back games, a very good sign for this club considering their scoring struggles this season. Now it is just a matter of consistency and beginning to gain wins/points in the standings on a nightly basis. They will get that chance tomorrow night when they visit the Atlanta Thrashers at Phillips Arena.
NEW YORK RANGERS POST-GAME NOTES
January 6, 2010 - New York Rangers 5, Dallas Stars 2 (Game #43, Home #23)
- The Rangers defeated the Dallas Stars, 5-2, tonight at Madison Square Garden to improve to 21-17-5 (47 pts.) on the season, including a 10-10-3 mark at home; New York have recorded points in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-2).
- Sean Avery notched a power play goal, and added three assists for a game-high four points; his four points and three assists tie his single game career high (last - Mar. 17, 2007 vs. BOS), and the three assists are a Rangers season-high; he also registered four hits and a plus-three rating.
- Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves while making his 17th straight start; he has now held opponents to two or fewer goals in 13 of the last 16 games.
- Defenseman Michal Rozsival recorded two assists, including one on the power play, and blocked three shots in 20:14 of icetime; he has now registered eight assists in the last 10 games.
- Ales Kotalik responded to Dallas' game-tying goal early in the second with the go-ahead goal at 8:23 of the middle frame; Kotalik has now recorded three goals and seven points in six career regular season contests vs. the Stars.
- Marian Gaborik notched the Rangers' second goal of the game at 15:47 of the first period; he has tallied a point in 32 of 41 games this season, including five goals and 11 points in the last 10 games.
- Erik Christensen recorded an assist on Gaborik's first period goal to extend his point streak to four games, registering five points (two goals and three assists) over the span.
- Captain Chris Drury gave the Rangers a two-goal advantage mid-way through the third period and finished with a 56% (9-16) success rate in the faceoff circle; he has recorded a point in back-to-back contests (one goal and one assist).
- Rangers defensemen Matt Gilroy and Wade Redden each collected one assist in the contest, and Ryan Callahan completed the game's scoring with an empty-netter at 18:55 of the third.
John Tortorella on secondary scoring...
"Not only to help us to win but also help guys gain confidence as we talk about more consistent play. Hopefully we keep chipping it in and scoring some goals so it is not 2-1 and every mistake is a determining factor."
Henrik Lundqvist on back to back wins...
"It's very important that we get back on track here at home. We have been pretty good and consistent on the road but if we're going to have a good run here in the next couple of months, we need to start playing a lot better and start winning at home. We're moving in that direction and it's a great feeling to win at home."
Ryan Callahan on the team's play as of late...
"I thought we have been playing well as of late. Minus that one game at home against Philly, I thought we have been playing good hockey. No matter what people are saying about us, we are playing good hockey and the guys in here know that. I thought we played well tonight."