The Rangers took the ice tonight against the Nashville Predators looking to build on last night’s victory over the Florida Panthers, but found out a few hours before the game that they would be without their offensive superstar, Marian Gaborik. Gaborik was out with the flu, but the Rangers had experience playing without Gaborik already this season when he was out with his shoulder injury so there were no excuses to be had. If the team was tired before tonight’s game considering the brutal November schedule and the back-to-back they would be even more exhausted after the night was over since they got an extra five and the shootout tonight. This would be the first shootout for the Rangers this season.
In the shootout Erik Christensen would make a beautiful deke to the backhand to pull it back to his forehand and beat Pekka Rinne. Henrik Lundqvist would stop on O’reilly. Stepan would come in and be stopped by Renne. The next Nashville shooter was Marcel Goc who tried to beat Henrik, but Lundqvist did not go for the dekes and stoned him. Ryan Callahan would try to deke and beat Rinne on his forehand but could not stuff it home, so heading to the last shooter it was 1-0 Rangers. Martin Erat would have to beat Henrik Lundqvist or the game would be over and he would come in and shoot high glove to watch Lundqvist snare it for the Rangers 2-1 victory.
Overall the game was a tale of opposing half periods for each team as in each period the Predators would dominate the opening half of the period and the Rangers would have the edge in the second half of the period. The boxscore will say that Henrik Lundqvist had to make 29 saves in the game, but after the first period it was a relatively easy night in terms of the difficulty of the shots he faced. In the absence of Gaborik the same players who carried the team when he was out before did it again as Brandon Dubinsky was a man out there playing 25:44 in the game and creating what would be the only goal for the Rangers scored by Ryan Callahan.
This win is the type of game the Rangers are going to have to play even with a healthy Gaborik as they played a tough gritty game where they were physical and once again their goal did not come off a flash play but rather a hard work cycle play that eventually led to the Cally goal.
In the first period the key moments were the Nashville goal where Dan Girardi had the puck hop over the stick and led to a breakaway for Colin Wilson as he got between Girardi and Michael Del Zotto at 5:04 of the period. After that there were two successive fights as Sean Avery and Jordin Tootoo would scrap after they came out of the penalty box and then off the ensuing faceoff Brandon Prust and Shane O’Brien would fight in the Nashville zone. Later in the period Christensen would put the puck in the net but it was an intentional kick so it would not count.
In the second period it would take the Rangers over ten minutes to register a shot and once they did they would have three golden opportunities to score but could not convert any of them. The best of the chances was on Erik Christensen’s stick and he had all day but could not lift the puck over Rinne. The other chances were Alex Frolov off a beautiful feed from Derek Stepan and then Callahan driving to the net and on both the Rangers would miss the net. The same story would play out in the third as another slow start would be followed by a good second half of the period which culminated in the Ryan Callahan goal which was created solely by the work of Brandon Dubinsky refusing to be taken off the puck and then Callahan would have his shot deflect off JP Dumont and in at 13:04.
- Dubinsky was the man tonight as he seems to be when Gaborik is out of the lineup. He showed why he deserves to be an all-star as he led by example and would not be denied on the tying goal. Now the Rangers need him to play that way with Gaborik in there as well
- Christensen showed the flashes of why he is so frustrating because the talent is clearly there but he does not put it together
- Callahan is fearless in blocking shots
- Frolov had a good first period but did not notice him much after that
- Stepan made some good plays
- After a poor first period, Marc Staal rebounded to have a solid last two periods
- Eminger and Sauer were both good in this game
- Lundqvist continued his better technique tonight staying high and more upright in the net