NEW YORK – Scott Gomez is not known for his shot. In fact, it’s so soft and unusual, Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist coined him with the name “Mr. Muffin”.
“His shot, it’s not the hardest shot,” Lundqvist said. “It’s kind of tricky. That’s Mr. Muffin.”
Yet, Mr. Muffin was all the Rangers needed as Gomez was able to break the power play drought with a softball past Islander goalie Yann Danis, 7:26 into the second period. It was enough to win the game in the Blueshirts, 3-1 win over the Islanders.
“That might have been the hardest shot he has got,” said embattled Rangers coach Tom Renney. “It was on net and that is the bottom line. And you follow your shot to the net. You shoot and go and give the goaltender more to think about than just the shot.”
The Rangers actually had a lot to think about going into this game against the Isles. With a 1-6-2 record coming in, the club had to wonder in the season was going down the tubes, while Renney was wondering about his future. The early season first place lead is now down to a desperate eight place hold and the Blueshirts needed answers fast.
“I think it is just everyone being on the same page as a team,” said free agent bust Wade Redden, the poster child of Ranger misfortune this season. “I have been in the spotlight and I take full responsibility for myself, but I think it is a total team effort.”
At least for one night, the Rangers got that 60 minute effort, which eluded them over the past month. From the get-go, the team played with a snarl. And even though the Islanders are last in the NHL, they always play the Blueshirts like it’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup.
Maybe though, that’s what the Rangers needed as the team forced itself to step up when needed. As they came out strong, taking the early lead with a Nigel Dawes slap shot 5:37 into the match.
“It gives you a chance to win most night, that’s for sure, so that is a great starting point,” Renney said. And it also put the Islanders on their heels for at least three minutes until Mark Streit tied it up a little less than three minutes later.
Yet, that was all the Isles will get from Lundqvist, who seemed back in form with a 25 save night – and an assist on Gomez’s goal.
“I thought it was time to step up,” Lundqvist deadpanned. “It was a huge pass. It was just a great assist and a great shot by Mr. Muffin.”
Although Gomez seemed not to like his new moniker, if it means Ranger wins, then Mr. Muffin will stay, with the Blueshirts hoping today’s win means the worst is over.
“Having the Islanders coming in brings the intensity up a little bit,” said Ranger captain Chris Drury, who had the primary assist on all three goals, including Fredrik Sjostrom’s empty netter. “We got it. It was a big win. 1-0.”
Notes: With the win, the Rangers move back into fifth place in the Eastern Conference…This was Lundqvist’s second assist of the season. The first coming on Nov. 19 in the Rangers, 6-3 loss to Vancouver. It was also his fourth of his career…The Rangers will retire Nos. 9 & 3 on Sunday in honor of Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell, respectively. They called a press conference on Friday for the event at the MSG Training Center.
Audio: Henrik Lundqvist on Mr. Muffin[audio: https://www.nysportsday.com/wp-content/uploads/lundqvist_on_mr_muffin.mp3]