The New York Rangers were riding high coming into Tuesday’s game against the Penguins based on all the positive health news and returns of Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi to the lineup. Combine that with the Penguins being without Crosby, Malkin and Letestu and the Rangers should have walked out of MSG with two points tonight. Instead, they would have to settle for one as they would fall in a seven round shootout with Dustin Jeffrey getting the winner and Marian Gaborik being stopped to end the game.
The Rangers scored early on a goal from Brandon Prust, but they did not play a very good first period in total. You could tell John Tortorella was not happy from his in-game interview on VS during the action in the first. The team came out much better early in the second period. They started with multiple shifts of strong forechecking play and were back to playing Rangers hockey.
The Rangers hard work would be rewarded as Artem Anisimov would score a beautiful goal 1:41 into the period. The play started with Marian Gaborik entering the zone and firing a wrist shot that popped in the air. Brandon Dubinsky would hit the puck out of mid-air and it would unintentionally direct into Artem Anisimov’s path where he would take it from mid-air and put it in the net. Who says there are still a few weeks left until Spring Training?
Following the 2-0 lead Brandon Prust would drop the gloves with Derek Engelland in a fight that just was not a good idea at the time. The Rangers had the momentum in the game and there was no reason for it. I certainly understand Prust not backing down from any challenges, but there was little to be gained from the fight. The reason for the fight was both at the opening faceoff of the game and the second period Prust and Matt Cooke were jawing at one another. To start the second it looked like Cooke was actually going to drop them and fight Prust, but it never happened. The next shift for Prust was when Engelland came to Cooke’s “defense” and challenged Prust.
As I said, following the fight, the Rangers went flat. Kris Newbury took a penalty that was not a smart move elbowing Fleury outside the top of the crease and the Rangers would pay 10 seconds into the penalty when Dustin Jeffrey fired a shot that deflected off Dan Girardi and then took a wicked bounce off the ice and beat Lundqvist at 5:30 to cut the lead to 2-1 New York.
Just past the mid-way point of the period Henrik Lundqvist would give up a juicy rebound from a Max Talbot shot and Michael Del Zotto would fail to check Mike Rupp’s stick, which would combine to allow Rupp to convert an easy rebound goal to tie the game 2-2. The Penguins would take the lead later in the second when Chris Kunitz would deflect a Michalek shot this time to beat Lundqvist at 14:12.
After the Penguins took the lead the fireworks really got going. During a scrum in front of the Rangers bench Brandon Prust delivered a clean hit on Tyler Kennedy. Jordan Staal came over, as he should, and gave Prust a clean hit back, but then Staal went to the next level. Staal tagged Prust with left hook to the jaw, dropping Prust to the ice. For the play Staal was assessed a match penalty, which meant the Rangers got a five minute major power play and Staal was ejected from the game. In watching it I thought that Prust embellished it to an extent, but that did not change the fact it was a sucker punch. After the game, Prust said that Staal caught him on the “sweet spot.”
After screwing up the power play for the majority of the five minutes, the Rangers would tie the game when a Michael Del Zotto shot would get deflected by Ryan Callahan.
The Rangers would dominate the third, but could not solve Fleury to get the winner.
- Thought Dubinsky looked like he was struggling at various times to skate tonight. He had an assist and created some chances in 23:10 of playing time
- Callahan showed some rust in failing to convert early, but got the tying goal and looked pretty good in his return after missing 19 games.
- Anisimov was the most noticeable Rangers forward tonight
- Marian Gaborik is still invisible
- Michael Sauer was excellent again, as was his partner Ryan McDonagh.