NEW YORK – In football, it’s called a trap game – a match where a team overlooks its inferior opponent.
Yet, when it comes to the Minnesota Wild, it’s always a trap game, as Jacques Lemaire’s system slows down the attacking opponents almost to a crawl.
In the end though, the Blueshirts didn’t get trapped, coming out the 2-1 win over the Wild to gain an important 2-points in the standings.
“[Minnesota] is well disciplined; they are patient and they are waiting for mistakes,” said Scott Gomez, who got the game winner early in the second. “Torts definitely stressed it right from the get go. Every time he came into the room, he said these are the teams teams that if you make a mistake they are going to capitalize on it.”
More than anything, it was the Minnesota trap the Rangers were fighting all night long and that slowed down the Blueshirt attack as the game went on. After getting 23 shots through two, the Rangers kept a man back on the Wild in the third and mustered only seven against Niklas Backstrom, who was sharp pretty much the whole night.
“They didn’t have a lot of shots, but they had some pretty big scoring chances,”said Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who faced a season low 18 shots for the second time this season [the first coming in Ottawa on November 22nd]. “It was kind of tough to stay sharp, but as long as you keep it at one goal, you feel pretty good.”
The Rangers actually fought through the trap most in the first, taking 10 shots in the period, but had to wait until 4.4 second left in the period when Nikolai Zherdev was able to put in a tough angle shot over the sprawled out Backstrom to give the Blueshirts the lead going into the dressing room.
Actually the life came 16:20 into the period when Sean Avery had his first fight since returning to the Rangers, taking on Cal Clutterbuck and knocking the Minnesota enforcer to the ice.
“I wanted to fight,” said Avery, who also had an assist. “I wanted to fight against Ottawa and wasn’t happy with the way I played.”
“Sean knows he didn’t play that well the other night,” added coach John Tortorella. “. He didn’t get some ice to play on. It didn’t allow him to play his game. I think he wanted to get back into his game, bang a little bit, fight.”
Colton Orr followed with a one sided match against the Wild captain, Owen Nolan, after the two collided at the blue line.
But it wasn’t the fights the won the Rangers the game. It was their resiliency after Marian Gaborik tied the game, 1:31 into the second. Just :53 second later, Avery outletted to Gomez in the slot, who put it past Backstrom to untie the match and ultimately give the Rangers their two points.
“I know it wasn’t the most exciting game for the fans, but that’s how you got to play against a team like that. You always [want to] give an exciting game for the home crowd. It’s a tough team to play against. They play a system that’s frustrating, but we just played through it.”
Notes: The stench from the Garden wasn’t the power play, but the elephants that arrived from the circus on Monday. But the power play stunk again, after a 1-11 coming in, the Rangers went 0-5 in this match.
“It’s my responsibility,” Tortorella said. “Some coaching needs to have to come in, so I have to take responsibility.”
Michael Sauer played his first game, registering 13:33 of ice time pairing with Paul Mara. “The thing that I was impressed with is when you have a young kid come up, it’s off the glass and out,” Tortorella said. “I love his poise with the puck. I thought he had chances to get rid of the puck and give his problems to someone else, but he kept control of it, held onto it and made a better play.”