NEW YORK – Just when you thought the Rangers were dead, they picked themselves off the ice.
Led by Chris Drury’s two goals, and another great effort by Henrik Lundqvist, the Blueshirts downed the Canadiens 3-1 at Madison Square Garden.
With the win, the Rangers now have 91 points the eighth spot in the playoffs all to themselves after Florida lost in Philadelphia. More importantly, the team trails Montreal by just one point for the seventh spot in the playoffs and a date with Washington instead of Boston.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the Rangers still need to come through in the final home and home against Philadelphia or at least have Florida get knocked out by either Atlanta and/or Washington during their ultimate regular season games.
Still, the Rangers are looking at it one game at a time.
“I don’t think anyone is looking at the big picture, just thinking it was a good win,” said Drury. “It’s over, have a good practice tomorrow and have a good first 20 minutes against Philly. It’s pretty simple.”
If it was that easy the Rangers would be in the playoffs right now and not fighting for a spot. But if Drury comes through with a performance like he did tonight, the Rangers look good. Scoring the Bueshirts’ first and third goal, the captain made a stand after a very difficult season.
“He has been really sharp lately,” Lundqvist said. “We all know it. When it comes down to big games, he always steps up. That is why he is one of the best players. He knows where to be and knows what to work on. When the game gets more important, that is the way he is.”
Tortorella said he struggles because Drury “cares so much” and Drury, never a man of many words, credited the rest of his team, saying “everyone’s pulling to get wins and get points.”
Whatever it is Drury is coming through at the right time.
And then there is Lundqvist who hasn’t struggled this season, stopping 24 shots on the night and only allowing a late first period goal to Mathieu Dandenault after Blair Betts gave up the puck in his own zone.
But that was all the Rangers needed and Nik Antropov added a beauty early in the second, diving for the puck in front of Carey Price who stopped 41 Ranger shots, not including the three that went in.
“It was a big game for us,” Lundqvist said. “We are going to go for it Thursday. It is a big game again. We have a great opportunity to play great now and go into the playoffs feeling really good. If we take care of business and do our job here on Thursday that (will be) the case. Rest tonight, have a good practice tomorrow and then get ready for a big battle.
“Playing Philly here is going to be great, a good atmosphere. The last home game before the playoffs hopefully. I am looking forward to it. It is a fun time of the year. It is exciting, it is intense. That is the key for us as well – to try to enjoy it even though it is a lot of pressure. You have to have fun.”
Notes: Ryan Callahan won the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, voted on by the fans. Last year’s winner was Brandon Dubinsky and it just made sense that Callahan would win the award this year with 21 goals and 17 assists on the year.
“I feel really honored to get that award, especially coming from the fans,” Callahan said. “It was an honor and it was a good win to finish the night off.”