Shanahan and Gomez Get Revenge in 5-2 Victory Over Isles
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Saturday, September 29, 2007

NEW YORK - With Sean Avery and Jaromir Jagr healthy scratches for tonight’s game, the Rangers had to look elsewhere for grit and scoring. However, Brendan Shanahan and Scott Gomez had no problem taking center stage.

Powered by a four-goal second period, with three coming from the combination of Shanahan and Gomez, the Rangers took down their arch-rivals 5-2.

After the game, Gomez’s trademark smirk almost did all of the talking for him.

“Shanny just knows how to get open,” said Gomez.

However, Isles goaltender Joey MacDonald was extremely sharp in the early going, making nine saves through the first six minutes of the game and keeping the Rangers scoreless. Stopping 16 shots in the first period, MacDonald was the only thing stopping the Rangers from taking the game over.

Then, with 1:24 left in the first, the relatively untested Henrik Lundquist gave up the first goal of the game, courtesy of a Sean Bergenheim backhand that gave the Isles the early lead. Sneaking his way past Marek Malik and Michal Rozsival, Bergenheim only had enough time to stab at the puck with a backhand, but it was enough to get past Lundquist.

It didn’t take the Rangers long to get back into the game though, as Gomez scored on the powerplay, beating MacDonald after only 1:48 into the second period. The Isles then had a chance to break the game open, but had a Drew Fata goal disallowed 35 seconds later because of goaltender interference.

All of a sudden, the intensity and passion on the ice began to pick up and there was no mistaking the fact that the game was starting to get crunchy.

The hitting that made the game last week a cult classic started to pick up and soon enough, Shanahan got his team the lead, taking a feed from Gomez and firing a wrist shot that beat MacDonald nine minutes into the second. Less than three minutes later, the Rangers gave themselves a two-goal lead, as Martin Straka scored on Isles goalie Mike Morrison, who replaced MacDonald after the midway point of the second.

“The last couple of days, I’ve been playing with Gomez,” said Shanahan. “We seem to have something. As the game went on, I felt we started to find each other pretty well.”

Failing to get the puck out of their zone, the Islanders looked flat on defense and were unable to create any stable offensive attack. Forced to commit penalties to keep up with the Rangers, the Isles got burned on the powerplay yet again in the second period. After Isles D-man Bruno Gervais failed to pick up Shanahan in between the circles, the future Hall of Famer snapped in his second goal of the game, giving his team a 4-1 lead going into the third period.

“The first couple of games [this pre-season] I was just trying to play smart and not get hurt,” said Shanahan. “Now, I’m starting to ask more of myself and push it.”

Looking like it had the potential to get as nasty as the two teams last encounter this week, the third period only saw a small melee of fists from Jason Strudwick and Fata and later on an equally as quick scrum with Daryl Bootland and Fedor Tyutin. With the Rangers continuing to stifle the Islanders in the neutral zone, the Isles were unable to establish any kind of significant forecheck the rest of the game, but did get a late game goal from Trent Hunter.

However, the Blueshirts added an empty-netter and some more rough stuff, easily shutting down their bitter rivals in an impressive 5-2 come from behind victory.

Happy with the way the team played tonight, Gomez believes they got the redemption they needed after a tough loss to the Isles on Monday and likes what he sees so far from his new team.

Scoring five goals without two of your best players will do that to a guy.

“You look at all the teams that have success in the playoffs every year and they all have players that can chip in when they have to,” said Gomez. “That’s the great part about our club.”