Game 12: Rangers Dump Habs, Win 5-3

For the second time in a week, the Rangers ended an opponents extended winning streak. Last week, they halted a five-game winning streak the San Jose Sharks brought with them into Madison Square Garden, and last night, they snapped a four-gamer the Montreal Canadiens carried with them into New York, winning 5-3.

The game got off to a strange start. The Rangers nearly put the puck into their own net during a delayed penalty, as the puck banked off the boards and sailed about 180 feet and missed the post by about 10 inches. Moments later, Brandon Dubinsky was leveled by a Canadien player coming off the bench, which led to several penalties and fights, including Michael Sauer and Petteri Nokelainen being ejected, leaving the Rangers with just five defensemen the final 55 minutes of the game.

The Rangers would get a 5-on-3 power play for two minutes following the altercation, and capitalized when Erik Christensen buried a crease-mouth pass from Derek Stepan to make it 1-0. Midway through the first, Dan Girardi blasted home a shot from the face-off circle to make it 2-0, and Michael Del Zotto ended the scoring in the first with a gorgeous deke move off a pass from Stepan.

The Canadiens got on the board early in the second period when Max Pacioretty put home a rebound shot to make it 3-1. The Habs made it a 3-2 game at 12:20 when Andrei Kostitsyn beat Henrik Lundqvist. With the momentum in Montreal’s favor, Brad Richards gave the Rangers the two-goal lead again on a beautiful wrist-shot with just over a minute remaining in the second.

In the third, Brian Gionta‘s slap shot from the point with the goalie pulled made it 4-3 with 1:51 remaining, but an empty-net goal by Ryan Callahan sealed it for the Blueshirts.

Reaction after the break.

  • It’s becoming a trend that the Rangers start games strong but let up a bit in the second period. After dominating in goals, shots and power play opportunities, the Rangers were a little slow in the second period. You could attribute to the Habs coming out stronger, but the Rangers have to find a remedy for it.
  • Speaking of the power play, it went 1-10 on the night. Not good. It’s shown signs of life in the last couple of games, but when you’re given that many chances, you have to score more than 1 goal. If they go 2-10, still a bad rate, this game is over a lot earlier than it was.
  • Although he didn’t register a point, Ryan McDonagh continues to be a monster. It’s fitting that he was named the third star against his former organization. The trade was lopsided when it was made, and continues to fall in the Rangers’ favor every game. The kid is just a stud.
  • Del Zotto is getting lost in the shuffle a bit with the emergence of McDonagh, but he has clearly turned the corner in his career. He’s jumping into the offense and is now given time on the penalty kill. He’s logging big-time minutes and making things happen. Will he make a bad play here or there? Sure, but not with the regularity of last season. He’s learning his position well and is starting to thrive.
  • The duo of Stepan and Artem Anisimov were great last night. Neither scored, but but tallied two assists each. Anisimov was moved up to play with Stepan and Marian Gaborik, and it paid dividends. I hope coach John Tortorella keeps them together, because they looked natural together.
  • Richards has been worth the money so far. He’s about a point-per game and just makes plays happen. He sees the ice so well and is a veteran body on the ice that is essential for such a young team. His goal in the second period completely changed the feel of the contest.
  • Henrik Lundqvist continues to play well on home ice, which is key for this team moving forward. With a makeshift defense in front of him, he’s answering the call every night.
  • Girardi is the glue that holds this team together right now. He just does it all. Glad to see him chipping in with some offense as well. He’s been the Rangers’ best player this season.
  • Sean Avery‘s return was fairly quiet, but that’s okay. Those who were expecting the second coming of Christ were surely disappointed, but this is the kind of role Avery will play. He started with Christensen (who continues to play well) and Andre Deveaux, who had another strong game including a point. The crazy amount of time spent on special teams clearly limited Avery’s ice-time, but he’ll take it.
  • I really don’t like P.K. Subban.
Rangers: Christensen (1), Girardi (2), Del Zotto (2), Richards (4), Callahan (6)
Canadiens: Pacioretty (5), Kostitsyn (5), Gionta (3)
Rangers: Lundqvist (W) 25 saves
Canadiens: Carey Price (L) 24 saves
Broadway Hat: Michael Del Zotto
Three Stars:
1. Artem Anisimov
2. Derek Stepan
3. Ryan McDonagh
Next Game: vs. Winnipeg Jets Sunday 7 pm
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia

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