New York, NY – When the New York Rangers acquired winger Wojtek Wolski; it was for his nose to the net. Well that instinct paid off for the Rangers as Wolski and keeper Henrik Lundqvist helped to lead the Rangers (26-16-3) 1-0 victory over Vancouver (28-9-6) in hockey action on Thursday night.
“We played incredible, Wolski said after the game. “The whole team played awesome. It was good for me to get my first goal and it was amazing we got a shutout.” The winger would continue by saying. “It was exciting. The fans, our team and our coaching staff were involved putting the effort into it. We are excited to get the win.”
In what was a playoff type atmosphere at Madison Square Garden as the 18,200 fans in attendance rocked the Garden early and often the Canucks set the pace early, putting the pedal to the medal on offense. They started to bombard Rangers keeper Lundqvist early as Christian Ehrhoff tried for a 27 foot slap shot at the 1:37 mark, which was stoned by the Blueshirts keeper.
New York was able to get a good opportunity at the 5:19 mark in that frame when Mats Zuccarello tried for a 44 foot wrister, which was saved by Canucks keeper Cory Schneider. Vancouver would then regain their offensive pace as Jannik Hansen tried for a 40 foot wrister at the 10:42 mark, but that shot was denied by Lundqvist.
Both teams would have good offensive opportunities, but neither would be able to score as they would go into the locker room scoreless after the first period of play. In spite of some solid play the Blueshirts were out shot by the Canucks by a tally of 11-8.
The Blueshirts struck on their first and only goal of the game in the second period of play. That Rangers goal was tallied on their second power play opportunity. The penalty occurred at the 6:49 mark when Canucks center Manny Malhotra was sent to the sin bin for two minutes for hooking Rangers center Artem Anisimov.
Wojtec Wolski (7) would then strike for his first goal in a Rangers uniform at the 7:18 mark; he would drive his way to the net and tally a nine foot wrister which was set up by Marian Gaborik (13) and Brandon Dubinsky (21) to give the Blueshirts the 1-0 lead.
“I went hard into the net and was able to find that puck for my first goal,” Wolski said. “I will take them however I can get them. I don’t care how pretty they are. It helps that we won. I am excited.”
On playing with Gaborik he had this to say to NY Sports Day, “He is a great player. Every time he is out there, he is a threat. He pushes the defense back. He really makes sure that every time he is out there, they notice them.
Vancouver would have a golden opportunity to strike for their first goal, as at the 14:53 mark Marc Staal was sent to serve a two minute penalty for tripping Canucks winger Alex Burrows. Then Vancouver would have a 5-on-3 opportunity as at the 16:06 mark Chris Drury had to serve a 2:00 delay of game penalty.
In spite of the advantage Vancouver would not be able to get on the board, due to some excellent defense. That defense was led by Brian Boyle who blocked two shots during that time, which would keep the Canucks off the board. Thanks to that unselfish play the Blueshirts were able to hold on to their lead, while also gaining the shots advantage by a tally of 24-20.
“I was saying to Brandon Dubinsky, ‘that was a lot of fun to get a kill like that.’ You get back to the bench and everyone is involved and patting you on the back. I was happy to be a part of that,” Brian Boyle would say on the penalty kill.
Lundqvist would take the game from there continuing his stellar play in the third period of play. Vancouver would not back down without a fight as they would continue to try to press the offensive momentum. Starting at the 2:21 mark when Keith Ballard would try for a 46 foot shot that would be denied by the Blueshirts keeper.
One of the more impressive saves for the Swedish keeper was at the 13:46 mark, as he stopped a Ryan Kesler 22 foot wrister. Kesler, who at the time was falling to the ice, was still somehow able to put off a good shot. In spite of that effort Lundqvist would be better.
“I think we definitely played the way we had to play to win this game,” said Lundqvist. “Penalty kill came up big-they were huge for us in the second period. We played really smart in the third period. The last couple of minutes they came really hard but you have to respect that.”
The Blueshirts keeper would finish the night the games number one star making 31 saves in his sixth shutout of the season. The keeper was also able to match his uniform number as he now has 30 shutouts in his career.
“30 is a good number. Hopefully I can keep it going a little bit longer,” Lundqvist would say of the number of shutouts in his career. “Every shutout is important. This was a good win to come back and answer with. It is so important to respond with two points. This helps us in the standings.”
New York will now go on the road for a Saturday night 7:00 p.m. face-off with the Montreal Canadiens. This is the second time this week that these two will play each other, as the Rangers look to avenge a 2-1 loss that the Habs handed to them on Tuesday night.