The Rangers jumped right back on the winning track with a 2-0 defeat of the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, after dropping two straight this past week to Atlanta and Carolina. This win gives New York their tenth and eleventh points in the standings, placing them at seventh in the Eastern Conference for the time being. A nice way to finish off the first month of the season, because they have a tough schedule coming up in November.
The first period opened with Brandon Prust, despite the bruised eye, dropping the gloves with Mike Komisarek. It was a good fight until Komisarek decided to use a wrestling move to take down Prust and then proceed to throw two cheap shots once they both fell to the ice. Prust would later pay the Leafs back by leading Brian Boyle into the offensive zone with a light touch pass, which Boyle took to the net and roofed over the shoulder of J-S Giguere to give the Blueshirts a 1-0 lead. The speed displayed by Boyle on that play was incredible, so fast that Giguere did not even have time to get over to the post before the shot was taken.
The second period was all defense and all Henrik Lundqvist. Hank made 18 saves in the period, but what made the difference was the fact that he did not have to deal with many rebounds. His defensemen, for a change, cleared the crease of all loose pucks and all opposing players. Ryan Callahan then scored an insurance goal on a penalty shot, which he was awarded upon being tripped on a breakaway. No player on the team deserved a penalty shot opportunity more than Callahan, because he was again working hard all night. That goal would be his fourth of the season and put the Rangers up 2-0 heading into the second intermission.
King Henrik continued his dominance in the third period, when the Leafs tried hard to make a comeback. The Rangers did a great job of trapping Toronto in the neutral zone and when they did get through to the offensive zone, Henrik had an answer for every shot he faced. Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky were great in the final minutes of the third, clearing the zone everytime Toronto tried entering it.
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Lundqvist captured his first shutout of the season tonight, and the 25th of his marvelous career. That puts Lundqvist ahead of my personal all-time favorite Ranger, Mike Richter, on the list of career shutouts as a Blueshirt. It is not easy for a goaltender to stand on his head one night, and then have to go and do the same thing just 24 hours later. That is what Hank did at the Air Canada Centre this evening, so he deserves a lot of credit for his effort.
Ryan Callahan continues to play spectacular hockey and again was a major leader on the ice tonight. Whether it was penalty killing, forechecking or just hitting, Ryan did it all and was deservedly awarded a penalty shot goal, which gives him goals in four straight games. Not to mention he is also the team's leading scorer at the moment.
Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle also stood out to me in this tilt. First of all, Prust going after Komisarek with an injured eye speaks volumes of the heart and soul this guy plays with on a nightly basis. Selfishly, not many players would do that, especially when they are going up against someone much larger and stronger than them. But that doesn't matter to Prust. He is all about giving himself up for the club.
Brian Boyle, who has also played a physical role this season, showed his offensive side yet again. His beautiful backhander puts him at four goals on the season (ten games), which was his season total in 71 games played in 2009-10. Boyle has transformed right before our eyes, and with key guys out with injuries on offense, Boyle's secondary scoring has been a huge help.
The entire defense played an all-around better game than they did against Carolina on Friday. Like I said above, Lundqvist did not have to deal with very many rebounds thanks to the play in front of him. Also, they limited the odd-man rushes against, which wasn't the case earlier in the week versus the Thrashers and Hurricanes.
New York will have Sunday off, but are back in action on Monday when they host the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden. That will be the beginning to a very difficult schedule in the month of November, but a win would be a sure confidence booster.