NEW YORK – During their first five wins this season, the Rangers have gained points in almost every fashion.
They won tight games and they won blow outs. They could shut out teams and they can win the shooting matches.
But one thing was constant during their first five wins, the Rangers were the better team on the ice.
That is until tonight where they were outplayed by a fresher Los Angeles Kings team, which pretty much outclassed the home team in every facet, except one – the final score.
Even with a superior effort by Los Angeles, the Blueshirts prevailed 4-2 to win their sixth straight in a row.
“We looked like a tired hockey club,” said coach John Tortorella, who saw his team not sweep a homestand, but also win the three games in four days. “I thought the guys were tried, we just couldn’t win the battle. We just couldn’t catch up with them but you still find a way to win one of those games when you are not on and we were not on.”
Much like a number of other wins this year, this is a game the Rangers would have lost last season. The difference here was the power play and man advantage goals by Vinny Prospal – the second being a 5-on-3 – in the first period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
It was just enough to allow the team some comfort and leave it in the hands of Henrik Lundqvist who stopped 34 shots on the night.
“If we didn’t have Henrik in the net, who knows what the score would have been, but I guess it happens,” said Prospal who scored his 200th career goal in this match. “Sometimes you get outplayed and good teams find a way to win. Even though we didn’t play that great, we still didn’t give them anything in the third period.”
Speaking of the third, the Rangers only managed one shot, but what a shot it was. A great effort by Marian Gaborik who took a pass from Prospal and rode it along behind him like he was walking his dog. Then No. 10 composed himself which a tight wrister past Erik Ersberg (17 saves) to make the score 4-2.
In fact, all six of Gaborik’s goals this season have come in the third period.
“That’s is where game breakers make it,” Tortorella said. “That is just a great shot tonight. I thought Gaborik was our best player in all facets of the game. Third period is crunch time and he makes another big play.”
“He is a guy when he is on his game, he scores in bunches,” Prospal said. “Look at the fourth goal tonight. I don’t think too many guys can reach the shelf from where he did.”
So now the Rangers get a well deserved rest. A day off after this game means the team can rest comfortably, especially after the team looked drained for most of this match.
“The toughest part (of this game) is, obviously, the mental part,” Lundqvist said. “We know they are a really good tea, they showed it, especially in the second period where we struggled. They good part is that we didn’t panic.”
Notes: The Rangers play in Toronto on Saturday..Gaborik is tied for the league lead in goals with six and second in points with 10…Michael Del Zotto collected two assists; he now leads all first year played in league and ranks second among defensemen with seven points (two goals and five assists)…Brian Boyle scored the Rangers third goal, which proved to be the game winner in the second . It was his first light of the lamp as a Blueshirt.