Henrik Lundqvist who? The Rangers walked into Atlanta to play the offensively dangerous Atlanta Thrashers with a rookie in net. Chad Johnson made his first career start against the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Maxim Afinogenov and former Ranger Nik Antropov; and was a stud.
The Rangers opened the scoring in the second when Enver Lisin converted a cross-ice feed from Marc Staal to put the Rangers up by one. What did you say? Who got the secondary assist? Oh, just Chad Johnson, joining a select list of goalies who notched an assist in their first NHL start. The lead lasted into the third before Jim Slater walked in alone and put the puck between the legs of Johnson, and into the back of the cage.
Overall Johnson stole the show. The Rangers defense (not wanting to make Johnson feel left out) abandoned him on various occasions and keeping to tune he bailed them out. That included one of the greatest saves you will see all year from any goalie, where Johnson was clearly beat and reached back with his stick to make a jaw-dropping save (which is pictured above in case you missed it live).
Johnson had to make a few nice saves in the third because the Rangers went into their panic mode and couldn't clear the zone. The Rangers took a few dumb penalties that caused some heartburn but aside from that it was a solid period. When the Rangers did get offensive chances in the third though they were quality, and they almost put the game away multiple times.
Unfortunately in the shoot-out Michael Del Zotto couldn't couldn't put one home and the Rangers blew Johnson's brilliant start. Marian Gaborik was the only goal scorer for the Rangers. Christensen was stopped and Ales Kotalik and Ryan Callahan missed the net (which by the way is the ultimate sin in the shootout).
- I have to say (and correct me if I am wrong but I missed the first period) that this was probably the quietest game of Marian Gaborik's Ranger career. He made a few passes, set up a few guys, and made some space but I can't remember Sam and Joe calling his name really at all.
- Speaking of Gaborik he only played 18 minutes tonight (Callahan played 25 for comparisons sake). Maybe John Tortorella is realizing that he is using him too much, and is giving him a few less shifts during the games, I like the move so long as the Rangers can score without his 5 extra minutes.
- Eric Christensen continues his hot play. He was pretty dominant tonight away from the puck and I can remember two or three opportunities where he made glorious plays. The kid is definitely showing the type of play that netted him 18 goals with Pittsburgh.
- I have to say that tonight was one of the best games I have seen Artem Anisimov play. He was physical after the whistle (which is something we sorely miss) and was pretty dominant at both ends of the ice.
- By the way was it just me or should Kovalchuck get an 9.4 for that dive he took on the Christopher Higgins hooking call in the third. No doubt that it was a penalty but no need to do a 360 like you just got hit by a truck Kovy.
- Also I want to note that this was one of the best games I have seen blocked shots wise. The Rangers blocked tons of shots and kept the shooting lanes clogged for Atlanta all night. Nice to see.
- By the way I don't want to hear anyone say anything negative about Chris Drury being the captain for the rest of his career as a Ranger. That face-first dive to block a shot at the end of OT was one of the ballsiest plays I have ever seen. I'm serious about the stripping of the C thing by the way, any guy who is willing to take a puck to the throat is a man I want to wear the C.