If there was any doubt as to whether rookie Carl Hagelin should remain with this team once several players return from injury, they were silenced tonight after the winger had his first two-goal performance— including his first short-handed goal— in the NHL, en route to a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres to snap a two-game losing streak.
“I’m not here to score goals every game,” Hagelin said. “It’s a big bonus. I’m trying to make sure we’re not scored upon when I’m out there.”
Hagelin has been noticeable on the ice due to his speed since his call-up several weeks ago. He began his NHL career with a modest three-game point streak, including his first goal against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“For him to keep on getting his minutes is to play away from the puck,” said head coach John Tortorella of Hagelin. “There were some stumbles, but it’s really encouraging that we have another young kid in our lineup who’s adding already, in just a few games.”
The 23-year-old Swede opened the scoring midway through the second period on a gorgeous wrist-shot along the boards that beat goaltender Jhonas Enroth on the high glove. Ryan Callahan added another shorthanded goal later in the period on a gorgeous single effort. He intercepted a pass on the Rangers’ blueline and broke in all alone, spinning away from a defender and finding some space between Enroth’s legs.
Hagelin scored his second early in the third on a slapshot, and Marian Gaborik ended the scoring with a powerplay goal.
Goaltender Martin Biron, who played over 300 games with the Sabres, finished with 32 saves for victory. He’s now 5-1 this season.
“It’s a lot of fun to play here,” Biron said. “There’s always a lot of energy and always a high-tempo game. And you want to play well against old teammates.”
The win was 2,500th in team history, leaving just the Chicago Blackhawks as the only Original Six team to not to reach that plateau.
At times the game wasn’t pretty to watch, but as they’ve done so often this season, the Rangers found a way to win, receiving scoring from an unlikely source in Hagelin. Again the Rangers had chances to take the game over with the powerplay, and again they failed to do so. If only they could get that thing going.
I thought Michael Del Zotto had another fantastic game, especially on the rink-wide pass on Hagelin’s second goal. A lot of Rangers fans still don’t want to give the kid credit, but he deserves it. He continues to take the body well, too.
Artem Anisimov was shaken up in the third period after slamming his head into the glass on a puck race to negate an icing. He said he was OK following the game, but this is just another reason why the no-touch icing rule has to be implemented in the NHL.
Rangers have another good test tomorrow night with the Florida Panthers, a team packed with speed.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia