Originally I wasn’t planning on writing a game recap, since I had to work until 8:30, but thankfully the Rangers decided to score all their goals in the third, and I was able to see the final twenty minutes. Coming off a convincing 7-0 win over the Washington Capitals, the Rangers looked like they were going to have a let-down loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, having only generated 12 shots in the first two period, and not starting the third with any conviction. But after a fight by Avery that seemed to spark the team, and a stupid, borderline slew-foot penalty by Matt Cooke, the Rangers not only tied the game at one a piece, but poured it on for a 4-1 victory.
The Penguins would open the score in the first period on a late goal by Evgeni Malkin. This would be all the scoring until the third period, before which the Rangers lacked flow and were doubled off in shots 24-12. But as Sam Rosen noted, the Rangers began to pick up their game in the second. After an uneasy start to the third, with not much flow for either team, Arron Asham would take a few extra chops at Henrik Lundqvist, and Sean Avery skated right over and dropped the gloves with him. This seemed to be the little spark the Rangers needed as they picked up their game and put more shots on an untested Brent Johnson.
With a little less than ten minutes remaining, and the Rangers still trailing by one, the puck would be sent down to the Rangers’ end of the rink. Derek Stepan and Matt Cooke would chase for it, when Cooke knocked the feet out from under Stepan, causing him to fall to the ice hard. It was not exactly a slew foot, but perhaps that was Cooke’s intention, since he is a dirty player. He would be penalized for tripping, and 20 seconds later, the Rangers would tie the game on a powerplay goal by Erik Christensen (6). Marian Gaborik would get the lone assist on the laser of a wrist shot which went off the crossbar and post before bouncing in. 15 seconds later, Alex Frolov (6) would break out of his funk with a rebound goal on assists from Brian Boyle and Dan Girardi.
Four minutes would then pass by and the Rangers would strike again. Artem Anisimov (9) came skating down the center of the ice, and with a snap of the wrist, it was 3-1 Rangers. Assists would go to Michal Rozsival and Michael Del Zotto. Less than two minutes later, the Rangers would put the icing on the cake with yet another fantastic wrist shot, this time by Brian Boyle (12), from Frolov and Staal. Three of the Rangers four goals would be by terrific shots, but it still makes me wonder if they would have scored them if Marc Andre Fleury was in net, but nevertheless, the Rangers and their fans should be very happy about this win.
The team stayed close, fought back and got themselves a big win. I’m also loving the toughness, as Avery did a good job in sticking up for Lundqvist by fighting Asham, and Boyle got into it with Malkin late in the third period. There is finally some cohesion from these Rangers and they are actually playing like a team now.
One sour note on a happy evening, though, would be the loss of Ryan Callahan who left in the first period with a broken hand. It is ironic because Chris Drury just returned to the lineup after missing virtually the entire season with a broken finger. The hockey gods giveth, the hockey gods taketh away.
Finally, it is also worthy to note the officiating in tonight’s game. Because biased calls against the Rangers were subjects in the last two game recaps between these teams, I must say that the referees behaved themselves tonight, including giving the Rangers a very blatant benefit-of-the-doubt call. Late in the third period, with the Rangers up 3-1, the Penguins seemed to have scored, but it was quickly waved off, citing that Pascal Dupuis had made contact with Henrik Lundqvist. Though he did touch him and possibly contribute to him not making the save, I have seen much worse go uncalled. The play was deemed “incidental contact” and not goaltender interference, which was why there was no penalty on the play. For all the times the Rangers have been screwed, I’ll definitely take it.