NEW YORK – It was fitting to have Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire star Dominic Chianese sing the National Anthem at last night’s Rangers game.
Because after his beautiful rendition, the snipers went out for their hits.
All four goals coming from the newly formed top line of Marion Gaborik, Brad Richards (with two), and Carl Hagelin ignited the Blueshirts forcing the Carolina Hurricanes to sleep with the fishes in the 4-2 win.
“Richie is seeing the ice better,” said coach John Tortorella. “Obviously he is the key. That’s the biggest strength in his game is seeing the ice, and I think he feels more confident there. Gaby is giving and going. He doesn’t want to carry the puck all the time. But to me the biggest key is Hags (Carl Hagelin). He chases down pucks. They have puck possession because he’s always chasing down pucks and he can make a play.”
That top line came to life at the right time too. With Michael Del Zotto and Ryan Callahan out with injuries and Henrik Lundqvist having the flu, the Rangers needed their top stars to step up in this time of need, especially with Pittsburgh surging and coming into the Garden on Thursday with Sidney Crosby back in the lineup.
S,o Martin Biron was tasked last night to quell the storm who was sharp for most of the game, stopping 27 of 29 stops, especially in the third when Carolina started to run on the Blueshirts, the backup was perfect in Carolina 9 shot effort.
“It’s a little stressful in a way, when you’ve got a three goal lead and in a matter of a couple of minutes, and a couple of bounces, it’s also the way it happened,” Biron said. “They (Carolina) started creating a lot with their speed, their skill and ability, it hurts you. I think when we worked hard in the last minute of the period, got that power play, we really made a difference and went to work right in the beginning of the third. I think that power play came at a good time. We really did a good job in the third period to preserve that win.”
However, it was Gaborik stepping up early which set the tone with his 34 goal of the season coming at 3:02 of the first, set up by Dan Girardi and John Mitchell.
Then in the second Richards scored two in a three minute time frame assisted by Hagelin on both and Gaborik on the second.
“He’s hot, Gaborik said. “He’s confident obviously, which is very important for offensive players. He knows how to slow the game down and Hags (Carl Hagelin) and I try to get in the holes, get some speed and pressure their defensemen and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Rangers needed that effort because in 30 second time frame, Carolina scored two, the first from Tim Brent after newly recalled Mats Zuccarello took a bad tripping penalty and then Drayson Bowman cut the lead to one.
But seven minutes into the third, Hagelin chipped in with a wrap around for his 13th of the season, assisted by – who else – Gaborik and Richards.
“With Richie and Gabby at the beginning of the year, there was no chance — you could see that right away,” Tortorella said.“But you never know. You never know when it’s going to click.”
Avery Retires: Sean Avery is apparently hanging them up after this year, announcing it on Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live.”
“I am officially retired; I threw my skates in the Hudson (River),” Avery said on the show.
The 31 year-old winger told Larry Brooks of the Post, he will begin a career in advertising next month.
“No joke, I’m retiring,” he said. “Couldn’t be happier about the situation.”