Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stepan Sends Rangers To Fifth Straight Win Sixth Round Shootout Winner

The New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes played yet another tight game Tuesday night with the Rangers coming away with a 2-1 shootout victory this time.  Derek Stepan scored the deciding goal in the sixth round of the shootout to give the Rangers their fifth consecutive win.  The Rangers appeared like they were going to win with 1:50 left in the overtime period when Marian Gaborik had Mike Smith twisted in multiple directions on a shootout, but Smith somehow made the sprawling save with his goal stick. 

Tortorella made the right decision in going right back to Gaborik in the third round of the shootout with the Rangers needing to score to stay alive and Gaborik sped in, slammed the brakes and beat Smith the second time. 

Lundqvist was not overly tested on the night, only needing to make 18 saves, but a number of them were on quality chances.  The win was Lundqvist’s career-high seventh consecutive victory.  Only Radim Vrbata was able to beat Lundqvist on the night as he scored in both the shootout and regulation.

The Rangers offense came from Ruslan Fedotenko who scored 2:27 into the third period.  His line with Brian Boyle and Carl Hagelin had numerous chances on the shift and Fedotenko finally converted from the slot with Boyle creating a tremendous screen.  It was the production that coach John Tortorella called for from his bottom six as the Rangers top two lines have been carrying the offense this season.  The other lines have played well within games, but their contributions have been missing from the scoresheet.

The Vrbata tying goal came mid-way through the third period.  After Marc Staal blocked a shot off his foot the Rangers defense was in scramble mode the rest of the shift when Marc-Antoine Pouliot found Vrbata in the faceoff circle for the goal high glove.
  • Each line had dominate shifts during the game, and the Rangers only scoring once was more about Mike Smith tonight than any failures of Rangers offense to generate.
  • Marc Staal is looking more comfortable with each passing game.

Video: Mike Smith Sprawling Save Robs Marian Gaborik On Penalty Shot

Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith was excellent all night against the first place New York Rangers, but his best save of the night came in overtime against Marian Gaborik on a penalty shot.  With 1:50 left in the extra session Gaborik was awarded a penalty shot and seemingly had Smith beaten, but Smith sprawled to rob him with the goal stick for a save of the year candidate.