New York – What a difference a few minutes makes.
The Rangers, almost out of options, down 3-0 in the second and in danger of controlling their own destiny came alive.
Four unanswered goals – including two with less than five minutes left in the match – excelled the Blueshirts over the Boston Bruins to a 5-3 win and placed them firmly in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.
“We had [guts],” exclaimed John Tortorella, actually using a word that rhymes with the four things that support a house.
That and a little desperation with the reality of the golf course crossing their minds.
“You get down depending on how you look at it,” said Brian Boyle, who assisted on Michael Sauer’s gamewinner at 17:03 of the third. “You can get down on yourself, but we didn’t. We started bringing it and good things happen. I am going to remember this one for the rest of my life. This was fun.”
Fun and frankly a little nerve racking for the capacity crowd. In a game that deflated the typical Ranger experience the first period and a half, came to life for the second part of it where the old Garden Roof was raised at least one more time in this current configuration.
“They are a big part of this,” said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who stopped 27 shots, including 18 in a very lethargic first for the club. “Going into the game, you can feel the excitement and they get two goals in the first. As soon as we got the first one, it changes on the ice and in the stands. You can see that. We feed from that and we get confident.”
And the biggest thanks for the Rangers came from their old man. Vinny Prospal, a forgotten man for most of the season, as he rehabbed an injury, scored the two goals in the second to lead the comeback against Tim Thomas [21 saves].
“He has the emotion of a young kid,” said Tortorella of his 36 year old. Just having him in the room and the way he practices; it’s good for the young kids because he is full of enthusiasm. You have to give him credit because I didn’t think he was coming back after that injury. To spark us is good stuff.”
Just as good is Brandon Dubinsky, who tied the game at 16:12 of the third and Sauer with his tremendous goal. All of it means the Rangers are alive and well and looking to clinch a spot as early as Thursday.
“It gives you goose bumps,” said Dubinsky. “It’s a feeling you can’t describe. We fought so hard. We needed these points and that part of it makes it more emotional. We want to keep ourselves in the driver’s seat.”
And to do that, as Tortorella said, they needed some old cajones.
Notes: The Rangers with 91 points are four points ahead of the Hurricanes. If Carolina loses on Wednesday against Detroit and the Rangers gain any points on Thursday against the Thrashers, then the Blueshirts will return to the playoffs. With the Knicks clinching last night, it means this will be the first time since 1997 both the teams are in the playoffs…Derek Stepan scored the empty netter at the end of the game for his 21st of the season.