UNIONDALE, NY – If it wasn’t the Islanders, the Rangers could have classified this a “trap game” where the Blueshirts could take a struggling team for granted.
But the Isles are no ordinary 11 point team, in fact the Rangers always bring out the best in them.
“The big thing coming into the game we wanted to do is have a good start,” said Ranger captain Ryan Callahan. “They come out hard every time we play them and we seem to have trouble with it.”
However, a strong first, coupled with some real sharp goaltending by Henrik Lundqvist and Brad Richards game-winner late, led the Rangers to a 4-2 victory over the Islanders to give them their seventh straight victory.
“Whenever you play in this damn building it’s up and down,” coach John Tortorella said. “I thought we were good for periods of time. I thought we were brutal for periods of times. But the thing that stands out is we found a way to win another hockey game.”
Richards was able to score with less than five minutes left in the match for his sixth of the year. Josh Bailey’s clearance shot was intercepted by Brandon Dubinsky who fed Richards from the top of the left circle. The big off-season signing then shot a laser past Evgeni Nabokov for his sixth of the season.
“That’s why we signed him for nine years,” Lundqvist laughed. “A guy like that has the tendency to step up at the right time.”
Yet, Tortorella was right when he said brutal and he meant the second period where the Isles got fired up after Mike Mottau mixed it up with Sean Avery. Outshooting the Rangers 16-8 in the period, Lundqvist (31 saves) was able stop them all with some beautiful moves in the net to allow the Rangers to take the lead 2-1 after Steve Eminger rang up his first of the season.
Yet, the Rangers couldn’t seem to stay out of the box and when Artem Anisimov took a bad high sticking in the third, Matt Moulson capitalized to tie the game, allowing Richards a chance to shine.
“We found a way to get a turnover and score the goal,” he said “[Dubinsky] made a great pass to me and I was able to walk into it.”
Speaking of walking, besides the fight Avery also scored the first goal of the game after Tortorella made a switch of centers and put Brian Boyle as the pivot between Ruslan Fedotenko and “The Grate One.”
Avery was able to take Boyle’s rebound behind Nabokov to open the scoring on the night.
And helped to make sure the Rangers didn’t fall into the Isles trap.
Notes: Brad Richards notched the game-winning goal with 4:55 remaining in regulation, and registered four shots on goal and a plus-three rating in 19:30 of ice time. He has tallied eight points (five goals, three assists) in the last eight games.
– Ryan Callahan tallied two points (one goal, one assist), including an empty net goal with 0:01 remaining in regulation, while skating in his 300th career NHL contest. He also tied for the game-high with five hits and posted a plus-three rating in 20:18 of ice time. Callahan has registered nine points (six goals, three assists) in the last eight games, including four points (two goals, two assists) in the last two contests.
– Sean Avery opened the game’s scoring with an even strength tally at 14:43 of the first period, and registered two hits in 11:57 of ice time. It was the second consecutive game he notched the game’s first goal in the opening period.
– Steve Eminger recorded his first point of the season with an even strength goal at 6:07 of the second period, and posted three shots on goal and a plus-two rating in the contest. He is now eight points shy of 100 NHL career points.
– Brandon Dubinsky tallied the lone assist on Richards’ game-winning goal at 15:05 of the third period, and posted a plus-three rating in 19:26 of ice time. He has registered six points (one goal, five assists) in the last seven games, including three points (one goal, two assists) in the last two.
– Jeff Woywitka, Brian Boyle, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer each recorded their second assist in as many games with one assist apiece in the contest. Woywitka also posted a plus-two rating as the Rangers improved 10-1-0 when he is in the lineup. Boyle was credited with four hits in 13:19 of ice time. McDonagh was credited with three blocked shots in 24:21 of ice time, and has registered three assists and a plus-eight rating in the last five games. Sauer tied for the game-high with four blocked shots in 20:23 of ice time.