Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Zuccarello-Aasen OT Winner Makes Him Lord of MSG Against Hurricanes

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
If there is a way to script your first NHL goal this would be about right for Mats Zuccarello-Aasen who in sixth career game would get his first career goal in overtime to give the New York Rangers the 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.  The play was a classic Dubinsky play where he used his size and strength to battle to the front of the net leaving Zuccarello with the puck behind the net and the “Norwegian Hobbit” went to work in his workshop.  From the same place where in the third period he found Matt Gilroy for the Rangers other goal, this time after surveying the ice Zuccarello came around the side of the net and fired the puck over Cam Ward’s shoulder for the winner 3:09 into the overtime (video of goal).

The effort by the Rangers tonight was the kind of effort that had been giving for the majority of the season, but had not been there the last few nights.  The team got back to their identity as a difficult team to play against that is physical, aggressive, gets the puck deep to work the forecheck and cycles to create their chances.  For a while it looked like they would not be rewarded, but great work by Dubinsky along the wall against Corvo and after being knocked down played the puck from the ice to Mats Zuccarello behind the net and Zuke would play it out top to Gilroy  who snapped off a wrist shot that snapped the Rangers goal drought at exactly 109 minutes 8:19 into the third period.

The Rangers appeared to be cruising after the goal but Eric Staal would beat Brian Boyle on the draw back to the point and no one picked up Staal so when Joe Corvo’s shot from the point left a rebound it was Eric Staal all alone in front to bang home the rebound at 13:46 of the third.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The game always had the feel of an overtime game and it would finally come to that after great play by both goaltenders, especially in the second period.  During that period both the Rangers and Hurricanes would generate plenty of chances, but were unable to solve Cam Ward or Henrik Lundqvist respectively.  Among the best saves of the period for Lundqvist were robbing Staal from the slot and Skinner from the doorstep.  On the other side Ward robbed Gaborik from the slot and made a beautiful glove save on Marc Staal from the point.  On the night Ward would make 33 saves while Lundqvist would turn aside 31 shots.  You wondered many times if either team would score and in the end they both got one in regulation but the Rangers had Hobbit magic on their side to get the winner from Zuccarello in the extra session.

The only fight of the night would be Brandon Prust would face off against Troy Bodie who as usual is significantly bigger than Prust but Brandon would more than hold his own in a pretty entertaining scrap with some big shots for each before they gassed out.
  • Once again Dubinsky while not scoring either goal was he man on offense for the Rangers as his will and determination played huge roles in both Rangers goals.
  • Zuccarello was dangerous all night and while his goal was special for many reasons just as special was the vision to find Gilroy on the other goal.  Clearly the Rangers have to find a way to keep him
  • Tonight was the best game in a long time for both Gaborik and Avery as both were aggressive in their play
  • Defensively the Rangers played well other than a few miscommunications on coverage like with the Staal goal.