Saturday, January 8, 2011

Against Stars Zuccarello Shines Brightest; Rangers 3-2 SO Win

Tonight’s finish for the New York Rangers is a pattern that the fans could certainly get used to as Mats Zuccarello-Aasen once again was the hero.  The only difference this time was that it was a shootout goal instead of an overtime winner for the rookie in the second round as it was the only goal scored in the skills competition.  The move by Zuccarello was special as he came down slow again, put a hesitation shake and then went forehand, backhand, and back to the forehand with a quick shot up over the pad of Lehtonen.  Henrik Lundqvist would seal the win when he stopped Mike Ribeiro in the third round to send the Rangers home with a well-earned two points.

Overall Lundqvist made 28 saves in the game in another stellar effort as he has been superb over the last month and he is in one of those zones where he can carry the team and he is doing that while the offense and team figures it out within games.  To top it off he had an assist tonight, the second game in a row and league leading third assist by a goalie.

The goal that Lundqvist would earn that assist was the tying goal from Artem Anisimov at 8:04 of the third period.  The play had the Rangers on the man advantage and Lundqvist saw the Stars were trying to make a change and so he fired the puck up the ice to Marc Staal at the offensive blue line.  Staal made a beautiful play entering the zone, but having tremendous patience with the puck to find Anisimov as the trailer and then Artie wound up and fired an absolutely perfect shot high far side.

The first period tonight was an up and down one as the Rangers played well in spurts, but certainly gave up the better chances in the period to the Stars and were lucky to come out only down 1-0.

During the period Dale Weise would take on Steve Ott in a good fight in which Ott landed a few good shots and Weis got in one of his own. This was obviously Weise trying to get the attention of the coaches and remain with the club for playing a toughness role, especially with Brandon Prust still nursing that sore shoulder.

The goal for Dallas would come at 7:55 on a simple dump play in which Henrik Lundqvist went behind the net and fans on the puck, the puck would continue to the corner where Anisimov was beat and with McDonagh and Lundqvist both behind the net Brian Sutherby was left alone in front for 1-0 lead.

In the second period Brandon Dubinsky would take an early penalty and the Rangers would do a great job of frustrating the power play and finally with 11 seconds left shorthanded Ruslan Fedotenko would score the Rangers ninth shorthanded goal of the season.  The play was really caused by a bad change for the Dallas Stars as when the puck exited the zone Brad Richards stepped off the ice and no one else stepped on.  Fedotenko would pick up the puck and with Drury driving the net fire the shot high from the short side.

After a relatively weak call gave the Stars another power play the Rangers were doing a phenomenal job on the kill, first Brandon Prust and then Dubinsky, but the Stars would score late in the advantage.  After a dump in they would eventually get Lundqvist down and scrambling that ended with Mike Ribeiro taking the shot quickly before Henrik could get back 10:20 into the period to make it 2-1 Dallas.
  • Alex Frolov played his best game of the year tonight with his highest activity level
  • Dubinsky, Boyle, Prust, Stepan just did what they do every night and are the best forwards on the club right now by far
  • Marian Gaborik is lost out there and I do not want to hear anything about groins as he showed he is healthy when he made a great defensive play streaking back on Jamie Benn in the third.
  • Marc Staal and Dan Girardi continue to be absolute workhorses and shut down defenders as they played 33:06 and 31:31 respectively for career highs.
  • Ryan McDonagh had his moments both good and bad, but overall he could use some more time in the AHL