NEW YORK – In baseball, this would have been the equivalent of Sabathia vs. Santana. Or in Tennis, this was Federer and Nadal matching wits.
There’s just something special when two greats match up for an epic battle. And 18,200 fans saw two titans in Marty Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist face off.
“[Henrik] played phenomenal,” said forward Brandon Dubinsky. “He gave us a chance to win. Obviously Marty is a great goalie and played well, but we have to just stay on it. We played a good game tonight against a good team.”
Actually, according to coach John Tortorella, the Rangers played really well. With 51 shots on Brodeur, the Blueshirts may have played their best overall game and to quote a Jim Dolan phrase of a few years ago, did everything asked of them except win.
Lundqvist stopped 45 on his own end, yet Patrik Elias was able to beat the Ranger met minder in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Devils the 1-0 win.
“I’m glad I was involved, because I thought it was a hell of a game to watch,” Tortorella said. “As a coach you are right behind the bench. I thought it was a really good game – chances for both teams. We kill off a 5-on-3 for almost two minutes. I have no complaints on how we played. It is frustrating when you come away with one point there.”
The Rangers averted disaster on that 5-on-3, 12:04 into the second. Both Erik Christenson and Dubinsky went to the box for different infractions, giving the Devils a major scoring chance. Yet, the penalty kill came through tremendously by limiting the Devils chances and outing the puck twice during the two minutes.
“We have a philosophy with it,” Tortorella said. “The only tape we show if the other team’s defense is their special teams or when they had a 5-on-3 recently. There’s a philosophy to it but what it comes down to is, eventually, you will have to block shots. They are going to change their look. I thought our guys did a great job.”
Yet all of this was not enough against Brodeur, who got his 107th shutout and stopped a career high in shots. Even with almost perfect play, the future Hall of Famer just was too much for the Blueshirts, and Lundqvist was forced to raise his game.
“I knew after the first period that it was going to be a tight game and I can’t afford any mistakes,” Lundqvist said. “I think we played really well in our own end. We didn’t create that many scoring chances. We put a lot of pucks on the net and tried to come up with opportunities from rebounds. They are very solid. They controlled the middle in their own zone very well and made it tough for us to get in there and get any scoring chances.”
Yet, don’t fret because the Rangers did get the one point from this match and won 9 out of 13 games, putting them sixth in the conference. With Ottawa coming in on Thursday, the Rangers have a chance to continue their strong ways.
Notes: Vinny Prospal returned after a seven game absence, due to a knee injury, Tortorella said he “played well”… The Rangers have scored points in the last 12 out of 12 games…the 51 shots on goals were the most by the Rangers since they tossed 51 against the Islanders on Apr. 4, 2008….The last time the Rangers and Devils finished a game scoreless in regulation was Dec 9, 2007.