NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05: Marian Gaborik #10 of the New York Rangers celebrates his game winning goal at 3:21 of overtime against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden on January 5, 2012 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Panthers 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers keep finding different ways to win hockey games.
Even if they're the ones making life difficult for themselves.
Ryan Callahan deflected a Brad Richards' shot early in the third period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead in last night's eventual 3-2 overtime victory. But just 36 seconds later, the Rangers allowed the Florida Panthers to tie the game, sending the matchup to overtime where Marian Gaborik would rip a shot past Scott Clemmensen to give the Rangers a much needed two points.
But it might be the goal before the Rangers were able to take the lead that set the tone for the game. Anton Stralman --who has improved every game to the point where John Tortorella is now trusting him with significant ice time -- scored the Rangers' first goal the of the game to tie the score at one and wake up a flat New York squad.
Join me after the jump for more.
Stralman would finish the night with a goal and over 23 minutes of ice time, giving him the third most ice time for Rangers' defenseman behind Michael Del Zotto (who played 26:36) and Dan Girardi (24:48). That's a far cry from the 10- and 11-minute nights Stralman was accustomed to when he first made the team.
Now? He's a trusted defender that John Tortorella is comfortable giving big minutes to.
That's huge, for a few reasons, but the biggest is because it allowes Marc Staal's development to continue to move slowly and carefully. Staal only played 13 minutes last night, and that's all the time he should see for the next couple of weeks as the Rangers continue to evaluate his progress.
Speaking of defenseman, let's give Del Zotto another tip of the hat. Del Zotto led all the Rangers in ice time in the win over the Panthers, and picked up a secondary assist on Gaborik's game winner. Del Zotto now has five goals and 18 assists as he continues to become both an offense and defensive force for the Rangers.
Also give a lot of credit to Brandon Dubinsky, who's really picked up his game the past couple of weeks. Dubinsky was never playing as badly as people were saying he was during his goal-less stretches, but it is nice to see him start putting the puck into the back of the net and looking dangerous night in and night out.
As this season continues, we will inevitably look back on big games and big points the Rangers were or were not able to acquire over the course of the season. Friday night's win over the Panthers will be one to remember. The Rangers could have easily lost this game, seeing as how it was the first game back from the 2012 NHL Winter Classic.
But they didn't quit, even when they were down 1-0 early, and they didn't give in. That's been another staple for this team so far this year.
So has winning tough games.