New York Hockey: Marian Gaborik

Tortorella defends relationship with Gaborik

April, 30, 2013
The Rangers have yet to play their first game of the playoffs, but coach John Tortorella is already in peak postseason form.

Unprompted, Tortorella railed against the idea that he did not have a good relationship with former Ranger Marian Gaborik, who was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the deadline on April 3.

"Don't give me any s--- about my relationship with Gabby, because it's wrong and unfair to both of us," Tortorella said, in response to a question about the trade deadline acquisitions and their acclimation to the team.

Tortorella, who kept his skates on and warned he wasn't going to stay long to answer questions, said he liked the chemistry those additions bring.

"I just thought it changed our team a little bit. I know you guys [the media] will turn it around and say that we didn't like Gabby and you guys talk about the relationship I had with him ... Gabby was a [heck] of a player. And we miss him in a lot of situations -- he almost helped the team get in. So, it isn't that way. We ended up getting three or four players that solidified our core."

In case you were wondering, Tortorella was not in the mood to give an update on injured defenseman Marc Staal. Ryane Clowe and Brian Boyle did not skate Tuesday; neither player is expected back soon.

Rangers ready for 'battle' with Caps

April, 29, 2013

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- In matching up against the Washington Capitals for the third straight year, beginning Thursday night in D.C., the Rangers face a familiar foe with an understanding of what to expect in a series between the two clubs.

Four times in the past five years the Rangers and Caps have met in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Coaches, personnel and system structures have changed, but the enmity has not.

"It's always a battle," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "It seems like it usually goes the length or close to it. I think we match up against each other pretty evenly."

Last April was a prime example, when the teams met in Round 2. The top-seeded Rangers prevailed, but it took seven grueling games to do it.

No game was more indicative of the grit, passion and intensity level that characterized that series than Game 3 -- a triple-OT match that went on well past midnight in a true war of attrition until Marian Gaborik's game-winner ended it after 114 minutes of play.

"That was a really hard-fought series and that game pretty much summed it up," said defenseman Dan Girardi, who logged 44:26 minutes on the Rangers' back end that night. "Overall, I just think it's going to be a really big battle. I think in front of both nets is gonna be key, what team can establish the forecheck and control the tempo there."

Girardi has drawn the unenviable task of matching up against Alex Ovechkin throughout the years, and that duty is not bound to get any easier with Ovechkin entering the postseason on a stunning clip.

Capturing the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal-scorer for the third time in his NHL career, Ovechkin finished the regular season at a scorching pace. Earning the NHL's first star of the month, Ovechkin notched 14 goals and 22 points in the month of April while leading his team to yet another Southeast Divison title.

No. 8 may have gotten off to a sluggish start, in part because of a transition from his natural wing, but he has since proven that he can still electrify and dominate a game.

"He's dynamic whatever side he's on," Girardi said. "He never really stays on one side for long… so we'll have our hands full with him. He's playing really well right now. We've got to be sharp against that line and their second, third, and fourth lines. They have four solid lines that can fore-check and score some goals. We're going to have to be very strong defensively."

The Rangers will likely have to do so without cornerstone defenseman Marc Staal, who has yet to play since suffering a frightening eye injury March 5.

Staal continued to practice with the team Monday, but does not appear to be nearing a return.

"I haven't written myself off, obviously," Staal said. "So far, every day I try to improve and get more work in and get more comfortable and confident with the puck in situations I'm going to be in on the ice."

With that gaping hole on their back end, the Rangers may choose to split their normal defensive pairings and separate Girardi and partner Ryan McDonagh ( as coach John Tortorella indicated before Saturday's game ) to achieve more balance on the blue line. Regardless, the Rangers will have to rely on reigning Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist in net.

Though 23-year-old Braden Holtby has been impressive of late for the Caps, Lundqvist gives the Rangers a distinct edge in goal.

Plus, he will be well rested with four days off after making 14 consecutive starts to end the regular season.

Lundqvist has plenty of experience playing against Washington in the playoffs, but this year's team is a decidedly new look than previous years, he said.

"It's the same team name but it's a different look, especially when I look at them over the last four, five years here," Lundqvist said. "It was all about offense, then all about defense, now it's in the middle. They're a team where you have to respect a lot of things about their game, especially their offensive, top guys."

Fortunately for the Rangers, they’ll have three full days to prepare for the new-look Caps under rookie head coach Adam Oates' direction. That's a luxury afforded them with an unusual schedule that doesn't have the teams meeting until Thursday for Game 1.

That would be a blessing for the Rangers, especially if it allowed injured players like Staal, Ryane Clowe and Brian Boyle to return to action, but none seem to be on the immediate horizon.

Plus, the series ends in unusual fashion with Games 6 and 7 slated to be played on back-to-back nights Sunday May 12 and Monday May 13.

The schedule won't make much difference, Girardi said. After all, both teams know what they're in for in Round 1.

"Both teams know each other really well and I think both teams are raring to get going," Girardi said. "I think we both wish we were starting earlier, but both teams will be ready come Thursday."

Dorsett skates

April, 15, 2013
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Injured Rangers forward Derek Dorsett skated Monday before the team's practice, the first time he has skated since suffering a broken collarbone in March while playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Dorsett, acquired in the Marian Gaborik trade at the deadline April 3, is unlikely to return before the end of the regular season but will likely be available at some point during the playoffs.

The rugged 26-year-old winger had three goals, six assists and 53 penalty minutes in 24 games for the Blue Jackets this season before he was shipped to New York.

Injured defenseman Marc Staal (eye) did not practice with the Rangers, though he may skate later this afternoon.

Practice lines from Monday:


Deadline Day: A look back

April, 4, 2013

Although plenty wondered (including myself) whether this year's trade deadline was going to be an uneventful one, it proved to be anything but on Wednesday for the Rangers.

Here's a quick look at all that transpired on Wednesday, and where things stand in the aftermath of a huge trade and the important win that followed.

-- Making room for some new arrivals?

In a move that surprised no one following coach John Tortorella's telling comments Monday night, the Rangers sent down both J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider to the team's AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale. Neither player saw the ice past the second period in the Rangers' 4-2 win over Winnipeg on Monday, and Tortorella intimated his concern whether the two youngsters could handle the responsibilities thrown their way at this critical point of the season. Considering what was to come hours later, these two would've been scratched for Wednesday's game, anyway. Important to note, however, that roster flexibility wasn't, and isn't, the issue. The 23-man roster limit no longer applies now that the deadline has passed. However, each team only receives four recalls between now and the end of the regular season.

-- Marian Gaborik traded

The writing was on the wall for weeks as rumors and speculation dogged the struggling scorer. Gaborik said he tried not to focus on the incessant trade talk in which his name surfaced repeatedly, but it must have taken a toll, nonetheless. So, it was not altogether shocking that, with less than an hour before the 3 p.m. deadline, the Rangers moved the three-time 40-goal scorer to the Columbus Blue Jackets for three players and a sixth-round draft pick. Gaborik got a much-needed change of scenery while the Rangers addressed some immediate needs in adding center Derick Brassard, defenseman John Moore and gritty forward Derek Dorsett, who is injured but expected to return in the next three weeks. More importantly, the Rangers rid themselves of Gaborik's $7.5 million cap hit, allowing them the flexibility to sign restricted free agents Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh this summer. They may also have the cap space to sign pending unrestricted free agent Ryane Clowe, if they want.

-- Rangers pound Penguins

If his Rangers debut was any indication, the Rangers may want to lock up Clowe for the future. The slumping forward, who had yet to score his first goal of the season when he was acquired by the Rangers on Tuesday, broke out with a pair of goals and an assist to lead his new club to a 6-1 rout over the first-place Penguins. He wasn't the only newcomer to chip in, either. Brassard had a career-high four points, and Moore notched a goal as well. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in team history that three players scored a goal while making their debut. For a team that entered Wednesday's contest ranked last in the league in scoring, it was a welcome, and wild, surprise.

-- Back in the mix

With that statement win over the Penguins, the Rangers passed two division rivals, the Islanders and Devils to jump from 9th to 7th place in the Eastern Conference standings. With 12 games left until the finish line, they travel next to Pittsburgh to wrap up a home-and-home against the Penguins.

Rangers wish Gaborik the best

April, 4, 2013

As the New York Rangers welcomed three newcomers to the lineup Wednesday, and watched them each score a goal, they also said goodbye to veteran Marian Gaborik.

Gaborik, who was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, joined the Rangers in 2009 and had been one of the team's top scorers in his four seasons on Broadway.

"It's a tough situation," Rangers center Brad Richards said. "He wanted to work here, but he's going somewhere where they're welcoming him with open arms and they're excited to have him.

"You look at that and wish him the best. He did a lot for the Rangers, played a lot of good games and put up good numbers and we all wish him the best."

Gaborik's tenure with the Rangers can be described as inconsistent, as he had brilliant offensive seasons and then baffling ones. In 2009-10 and 2011-12, he had his great years as he scored more than 40 goals each season, tallying a combined 162 points.

In his two other season, the results weren't there. In 2010-11, he had just 48 points, and this season he has just 19 despite a scorching start. Gaborik scored five goals in the first month, but has just four over the past two.

While it was assumed that playing with Rick Nash would take Gaborik's game to new heights, he never made that jump.

"It's sad to see someone leave that you got to know, but it's part of the game. I think everybody knows it and understands why it happens sometimes," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "I really wish [Gaborik] the best. He's such a great player and a great teammate."

BOYLE'S BEST: Rangers forward Brian Boyle scored a career-best four points in Wednesday's victory over Pittsburgh, scoring a goal and adding a career-best three assists. Boyle had just two points entering the game.

"He's playing better and better," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "The last couple of games, he's beginning to come and do more things for us."

NEW PLAY: As the Rangers finally beat the Penguins for the first time this year, improving to 1-3 against them, Lundqvist saw a different attitude permeate the team. The Rangers will see if that carries to Friday's game in Pittsburgh.

"We were definitely a more in-your-face type of team and we didn't give them much room," Lundqvist said. "A lot of great things today, that's for sure. The forecheck was outstanding. Usually they just fly in the zone, but it was hard for them to make good passes."

DORSETT STATUS: Tortorella said newly acquired forward Derek Dorsett is "a ways away" as he recovers from a broken collarbone that was presumed to sideline him for the season. Dorsett is on IR and last played March 7.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Penguins 1

April, 3, 2013

Marian who?

Hours after trading veteran forward Marian Gaborik to the Blue Jackets, the New York Rangers notched their season high in goals by defeating Pittsburgh 6-1 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers received eight points from three players they acquired before the trade deadline.

PLAYOFF UPDATE: With the win, the Rangers are now in a three-way tie with the Devils and Islanders for seventh place in the East. The Rangers currently own the tiebreaker over both teams because they've played one less game than the Islanders, and have won more games in regulation than the Devils. The teams all have 39 points.

RYANE'S HOPE: Ryane Clowe hadn't scored a goal in 28 games with the Sharks this season, but it only took him 15 minutes as a Ranger to notch one. The veteran forward, acquired Tuesday night for draft picks, had a memorable MSG debut as he scored two goals and added an assist. The Rangers acquired him to add depth and ruggedness, but on Wednesday he gave them an offensive lift.

NOT THE ONLY NEW STAR: As part of the Gaborik deal, the Rangers acquired Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore. Brassard led all the newcomers with four points as he notched a goal and three assists Wednesday. The four-point night marked his best game of the season.

AND THERE'S MOORE! Moore added a goal in the third period to make sure that all the new Rangers acquisitions, aside from the injured Dorsett, scored a goal. It marked Moore's first goal of the year and third in his young career.

POWER PLAY: So this is what an efficient power play looks like? The Rangers were a stunning 3-for-4 on the power play Wednesday night. Normally, the Rangers are awful with a man advantage, and they had just three goals on the power play in their last 13 games. The Rangers received power-play goals from Brian Boyle, Brassard and Clowe, with all the goals coming in the first.

HOT FIRST: The Rangers had their best first period of the year, scoring three goals.

FINALLY BEAT 'EM: Pittsburgh has been a thorn in the Rangers' side lately, winning all three of the games this year by a combined score of 12-3. The Rangers finally cracked Pittsburgh on Wednesday, taking advantage of a weakened Pittsburgh lineup without Sidney Crosby.

UP NEXT: The Rangers conclude this home-and-home series with a trip to Pittsburgh on Friday.

Moving Gaborik: Worth it?

April, 3, 2013
I imagine there will be a significant faction of fans upset to see the Rangers ship three-time 40-goal scorer Marian Gaborik out of town, but let me tell you why that is shortsighted.

While the Rangers addressed some immediate needs -- depth down the middle and on defense, plus some extra grit -- the most critical element of this deal may not be fully appreciated until the summer.

With the salary cap dropping dramatically next season from $70.2 million to $64.3 million, the Rangers needed to shed salary. And moving Gaborik and his $7.5 million cap hit to the Columbus Blue Jackets provides the team with some much-needed flexibility.

Gaborik has one year left on a five-year, $37.5 million deal, and cutting ties with him allows the Rangers some maneuverability this offseason. That’s crucial, considering they'd like to lock up some of their promising young players like Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh to longer deals this summer. All three players are restricted free agents.

Should the Rangers wish to re-sign recently acquired Ryane Clowe, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, they could probably do that now, as well.

The deal also eliminates a potential buyout candidate in Gaborik; the Rangers could exercise their second allotted compliance buyout on Brad Richards, if they so choose. New York already used an accelerated compliance buyout on Wade Redden.

It’s actually a good deal for both teams, the Rangers and the Blue Jackets.

New Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen admitted that the team’s biggest need was goal scoring, and Gaborik is still capable of that. Granted, he has been streaky in years past and has been slumping for the majority of this season, but he is still coming off a 41-goal season.

A change of scenery and a new coach might be a good thing for Gaborik. And should he find a good fit with Columbus -- an organization that appears to be turning the corner on the downtrodden times of the Scott Howson era -- then they might be interested in signing him to a contract extension this summer, which Kekalainen told reporters he intends to do.

Now, let’s talk about how this deal helps the Rangers now.

The Rangers are hurting for offense. That’s no secret. They are last in the league with a meager 2.26 goals per game heading into Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. And no matter how snake-bitten Clowe has been, there is no one Rick Nash-like player in that group who can provide that sort of lift.

So, if you are a Rangers fan disappointed in that regard, fair enough. But again, you have to think about it in terms of what this allows the Rangers to do in the summer.

I think the deals made in the past two days address the identity issue with the Rangers, more than anything.

Derek Dorsett and Clowe add some much-needed grit -- an element that was sacrificed in the loss of Brandon Prust, Mike Rupp and even Ruslan Fedotenko. They add some depth down the middle with Derick Brassard, vital considering their dire need at the center position. And they bolster their blue line with John Moore, an area weakened by the loss of Marc Staal.

Could this make the Rangers a much tougher team to play against in the playoffs? Yes, most definitely.

Do any of the moves add up to the Stanley Cup? Probably not.

This is not the season for the Rangers, though they still have a very strong young core and solid organizational depth. And, with this deal, that is precisely what they are trying to protect.

Rangers still in the mix for Clowe

April, 2, 2013
The speculation around Ryane Clowe’s future in San Jose ratcheted up a notch when he sat out as a healthy scratch during the Sharks’ tilt against the Vancouver Canucks Monday night.

And there seems little chance those trade rumors will abate any time soon.

With less than 24 hours until the NHL trade deadline Wednesday at 3 p.m. a number of clubs remain interested in Clowe.

The Rangers are one of those teams, as reported last week, and they are believed to be among the front-runners still in the mix for the pending unrestricted free agent.

Although Clowe’s production leaves something to be desired -- the 30-year-old winger has yet to score his first goal of the season -- the Rangers like his gritty style of play. That’s been an element conspicuously absent from the Rangers' game of late with the Blueshirts sorely missing some of the more rugged and versatile middle-of-the-lineup players that bolstered their lineup last season.

Clowe’s four-year, $14.5 million expires at the end of this season, but he does not necessarily have to be a true rental. He may prefer to go to a club with which there is a good opportunity to re-sign, a possibility the Rangers are open to as well.

Clowe has a no-trade clause, so he will be in the driver’s seat should Sharks general manager Doug Wilson find a suitable trade partner.

"I'm aware of what's going on and anything happening with me has to go through me, so we'll see," Clowe told local reporters on Monday. "I don't want to give a percentage or anything. Would I be surprised? Probably not. I wouldn't be shocked.”

The Rangers are also interested in veteran defenseman Dan Boyle, but Wilson’s asking price may prove to be prohibitive. To add his $6.67 million cap hit (he is signed through 2013-14), the Rangers would need the Sharks to take salary back as well.

Marian Gaborik would be a player the Rangers are open to moving, though his struggles this season have likely tempered interest across the league. Brian Boyle is also believed to be available, though his production has tapered this season.

With a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night, the Rangers retained their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. They host the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

A case for Sather to stand pat at deadline

March, 27, 2013
With one week to go until the NHL’s April 3 trade deadline, the possibility for a frenzy-filled flurry of activity seems to be waning.

With so many teams unsure of where they stand in the playoff hunt, the only true aggressive shoppers we see are the handful of clubs that are sure-fire locks with the attitude of going "all in" (see: Shero, Ray).

If that’s the case, there will only be a select group of clubs doggedly pursuing players to bolster their roster, teams like Pittsburgh (yes, STILL), Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Anahaeim, Vancouver etc.

The Rangers are not among this elite echelon.

Team president and general manager Glen Sather is never one too shy away from a bold move or the lure of some big-game hunting, but don’t be surprised if the Rangers stand pat, instead.

Although the Rangers had hoped that last summer's blockbuster acquisition Rick Nash would be the single piece to put them over the edge following last year’s march to the Eastern Conference finals, the Blueshirts do not appear to be primed for the same type of playoff run this season.

Sather has to know this.

Sure, there may be some depth moves and minor additions to address the middle-of-the-lineup needs, but there are not a ton of appealing big-ticket options that make sense right now.

Despite the team’s desire for a right-handed defenseman capable of playing in their top four -- a search that has been fruitless ever since it began, when young blue-liner Michael Sauer went down with a concussion last year -- the premium on puck-moving defenseman means a steep price tag.

A source confirmed to last week that the Rangers remain interested in Sharks veteran Dan Boyle, though they appear unwilling to part with what GM Doug Wilson is asking for in return. And because of cap purposes, San Jose would like have to take Marian Gaborik back in the deal if the Rangers were to absorb Boyle’s $6.67 million cap hit for the rest of this year and next.

The Rangers also like 30-year-old winger Ryane Clowe, but so does pretty much every team in the East. Again, though, Wilson’s asking price may be prohibitive given the fact that Clowe is a rental who has yet to even tally his first goal this year. Even if New York was was willing to part with a top pick and/or prospect, the Rangers would only have 12-13 games in which to acclimate him to the team and system before the playoffs begin.

If the Rangers even make it.

As of Wednesday, New York is in 8th place with 35 points, two points behind 7th place New Jersey Devils with a game in hand.

The fact that their hold on the last playoff spot is as precarious as it is should be the driving force between Sather’s restraint next week.

The Rangers still have a tremendously strong group of core players and an impressive crop of young talent within the organization. The team is still finding its way, trying to create and assert an identity that last year was pretty much unassailable.

There remains a strong foundation moving forward, but the future seems brighter for the Rangers than the immediate test that lies ahead: a jam-packed playoff picture somewhat distorted from an atypical, lockout-shortened season.

Why give up future assets on a year that seems less than promising?

Perhaps a burst of activity next Wednesday will prompt Sather to make a move of his own, but, this year, it seems to make better sense to sit back and watch.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Flyers 2

March, 26, 2013

PHILADELPHIA -– At a glance: A tremendous four-point game from Derek Stepan and three-point night from Rick Nash fueled the Rangers to a 5-2 win over the struggling Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday, giving them a much-needed jump start to a crucial three-game road trip. Winless in their previous two games, the goal-starved Rangers tallied five goals in a well-rounded effort; New York now has 35 points.

Stepan up: Stepan set a career high with his four-point effort in a terrific game by the 22-year-old pivot. After setting up the first two Rangers goals, Stepan notched one of his own, backhanding a rebound past a sprawling Ilya Bryzgalov. He added another helper on Nash's second goal of the night in the third period.

Third-period rally: Sparked by a power-play goal late in the second, the Flyers cut the Rangers' lead to 3-2 on a shot that stung Jakub Voracek and seemed to surprise Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist midway through the third. Claude Giroux unleashed a slap shot that clipped Voracek in the face before squirting past Lundqvist. Nash snuffed out the comeback attempt, however, with a wraparound shot for his second goal of the night.

Breaking Brad: Scoring for the first time since March 10, slumping center Brad Richards netted a power-play goal with a high slap shot that extended the Rangers' lead to 2-0 in the second period. Picking up an assist on Chris Kreider's third-period goal, Richards registered his third multipoint game of the season and first since Jan. 26, after being relegated to the third line on Tuesday night.

Shake-up: The Rangers debuted some new lines in pregame warm-ups and stuck with them when the puck dropped. Coach John Tortorella united Stepan with Nash and speedy winger Carl Hagelin; rookie J.T. Miller centered the team’s second line with Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan; and Richards was dropped to the third line with Kreider and Brian Boyle. Tortorella also played with defensive pairings, using Michael Del Zotto with Dan Girardi.

First strike: The Rangers opened scoring for only the second time in the past seven games when Nash ripped a shot top-shelf from the slot to give the Blueshirts a 1-0 lead with 5:06 to play in the first. Some nice puck movement set up the play; both Stepan and Girardi earned assists on the play.

Back in action: Struck in the face with a puck earlier in the second frame, Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds returned to the game to whittle the Rangers' lead to 3-1 on a power-play goal with 2:07 left in the period. The Flyers entered Tuesday’s game with a power play that ranked seventh in the league (22.4 percent).

Up next: Rangers at Senators, Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Rangers embrace Zuccarello's return

March, 25, 2013
Currently in 28th place in scoring and with only one power-play goal over the last seven games, the Rangers know they can use some offensive help.

And if it means welcoming back former teammate, Mats Zuccarello, they are all for it.

Several players embraced the idea of Zuccarello's return. The 25-year-old Norwegian forward has spent this season playing in Russia in the Kontinental Hockey League, but he has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Rangers to return to North America for the rest of this season.

Zuccarello is awaiting his release from his KHL club, Magnitogorsk Metallurg.

"There's no secret we need to score more goals," captain Ryan Callahan said. "Bringing a guy in that can create offense definitely will help the team."

Callahan said that the fact that Zuccarello has played with the team before will only ease the transition process. Zuccarello had eight goals and 18 assists in 52 games for the Rangers from 2010-12.

"We go through it every year at the trade deadline, picking up guys midway through the year. I don't think it makes a difference," Callahan said. "Especially a guy that's already been here and everyone is familiar with. And he's familiar with the system, so I think that makes the transition that much easier."

The Rangers could use an injection of fresh legs and scoring touch in the lineup. Coach John Tortorella has been juggling lines trying to spark something of late; on Sunday, he promoted Chris Kreider to the first line while Marian Gaborik was relegated to third-line duty during the team's 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals.

"He's a young, talented, skilled guy that can add some skill into our lineup," Gaborik said. "We all know what he can do."

As does Tortorella, though he refrained to comment on Zuccarello's impending arrival until the deal is finalized.

Briere Out: The Flyers announced that veteran center Danny Briere is out indefinitely with a concussion; he will not play in Tuesday's game against the Rangers in Philadelphia.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Devils 2

March, 19, 2013
NEWARK, N.J. -- What it means: The Rangers finally gave goaltender Henrik Lundqvist some offensive support, tallying three goals to top the Devils 3-2 for their second win in as many nights. The Devils were a resilient bunch, erasing leads twice in the first period to tie the game, but they couldn't match Rick Nash's second-period go-ahead goal to force the game into overtime. New Jersey may be in line for a big boost soon, however, as Martin Brodeur readies himself for his first post-injury start. Brodeur backed up Devils netminder Johan Hedberg Tuesday in his first game back since missing 12 with a pinched nerve, but may start against Carolina on Thursday.

Nash attack: Following up a couple of sensational stops on the other end, Rangers winger Rick Nash streaked down the right wing before sizzling a wrist shot past Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg at 7:25 to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the second period. Nash, reunited with top-earning linemates Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik for the second straight game, leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and 24 points. He has also recorded a point in 11 of his past 15 games.

Offensive outburst: Scoring as many goals in one period as they did during a three-game losing streak, the Rangers rattled off a pair of goals within a span of 5:11 in the opening frame Monday night. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto capitalized on Hedberg’s puck-handling miscue and batted one in for a short-handed goal to open scoring at 11:49. Carl Hagelin was at the left post to bury a puck bouncing off the boards for a 2-1 lead at 16:50.

All tied up: Twice during the first period, the Devils erased a one-goal deficit to tie the game. Travis Zajac tallied his first goal in 11 games with a power-play goal at 15:15 and Anton Volchenkov knotted the score at 2 with a deflected shot with 2:47 remaining in the period.

Man down: A Rangers fan’s worst nightmare came to fruition -- albeit briefly -- early in the second period when Lundqvist went down in the crease after being clipped in the mask. It actually appeared to be his own teammate, defenseman Dan Girardi, who made the contact, though Zajac was sent to the penalty box for an interference call that left Devils fans furious. Although Lundqvist appeared shaken up initially, he remained in the game with no issue.

Poni out: Alexei Ponikarovsky left the game with an undisclosed injury in the second period and did not return to the game.

Up next: Rangers versus Panthers, Thursday at 7 p.m.

W2W4: Devils vs. Rangers

March, 19, 2013
At a glance: Both the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are struggling to resurrect the type of play that pitted the two clubs against each other in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals as the bitter division rivals clash at Newark’s Prudential Center Tuesday night. With only two points separating the teams in the standings, the 8th place Devils look to hold off the 9th place Rangers playing their second game in as many nights.

Brodeur to back up: After missing 12 games with a back injury, Martin Brodeur returns Tuesday to back up Johan Hedberg. Hedberg will make his 13th consecutive start but Brodeur told reporters that he’s 100% ready to play if necessary. The 40-year-old netminder is likely to start Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes in Carolina.

Back on track: The Rangers travel to Newark fresh off a 2-1 shootout win against the Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on Monday. Both Rick Nash and J.T. Miller scored in the shootout to help the Blueshirts snap a three-game losing streak that had them slipping in the standings.

Sestito recalled: The Devils recalled left wing Tim Sestito from the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League. Sestito, 28, has seven goals and 13 assists in 57 games for Albany this season. The Devils announced that center Andrei Loktionov is out for Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed injury.

Close one: Don’t expect Tuesday’s contest to be a lop-sided affair as 14 of the last 18 meetings between the two clubs have been separated by two goals or less. The Devils won the first of four meetings this season with a 3-1 victory at home on February 5. Devils winger David Clarkson notched a pair of goals in the clubs’ first reunion since the Devils ousted the Rangers in the playoffs last spring.

Top line together: Aiming to spark his goal-starved club, coach John Tortorella reunited Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Rick Nash on a line Monday night, although whether he keeps them together Tuesday remains to be seen. While Nash has recorded a point in 10 of his last 14 games, Gaborik has scored only one goal in the last 15, Richards only two in his last 21.

Front-loaded first line is back

March, 18, 2013
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Looking to jump-start the Rangers' slumping offense -- outscored 9-2 during a dreadful three-game losing streak -- coach John Tortorella has reunited his top three forwards.

Or, at least, the highest-paid forwards.

A struggling Marian Gaborik, who has scored only one goal in the last 14 games, skated on the left wing alongside veteran center Brad Richards and right wing Rick Nash in Monday's morning skate.

It's a front-loaded trio that has generated some success this season, but never quite enough to stick as a consistent unit.

"I don't think we played [together] long enough where we figured each other out," Nash said. "As I've said before, you look at some of the good lines and they've played together years or months whatever it might be. But I did think early on we were having some success and each game we were getting better."

Nash sparked the team last month with his return to the lineup after missing four games, but the Rangers have since cooled off. They have secured only two of 10 points over the past five games and are tumbling down the standings as a result. The Rangers are in 10th place with 28 points heading into Monday night's game against the Hurricanes.

Carolina currently sits in eighth place, a mere three points ahead of the Blueshirts.

"It seems like everything's magnified with this amount of games," Nash said. "When you look at it, we can't change it now, so there's no point in trying to dissect it and figure everything out. It's over and done with and we can only worry about what happens tonight and in the future."

W2W4: Rangers vs. Hurricanes

March, 18, 2013
At a glance: Securing only two of 10 points in the past five games, the Rangers return from a four-game road trip looking to snap a three-game losing streak; they face the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night at Madison Square Garden in the clubs’ first meeting of the season. The team’s recent stretch has been worrisome, as three listless losses have left them outside the playoff picture in the East. The Blueshirts are in 10th place with 28 points, just three points behind the eighth-place Hurricanes.

Trade rumors swirling: The more Marian Gaborik struggles, the more his future with the Rangers comes into question. With only one goal in the past 14 games, Gaborik’s name has been bandied about as the April 3 trade deadline approaches. Coming off a 41-goal season, Gaborik (eight goals, nine assists) has scored in only five of the Rangers' 27 games. After this season, the 31-year-old sniper has one more year on a five-year, $37.5 million deal.

Top line reunited: In an effort to spark Gaborik and the Rangers’ overall offense (outscored 9-2 in the past three games), coach John Tortorella reunited the team’s trio of top forwards. Gaborik skated on the left wing with center Brad Richards and right wing Rick Nash during Monday’s morning skate.

Brother act: Monday would’ve marked the first time in their NHL careers that Marc, Jordan and Eric Staal were on the ice together in the same game, but one brother will be missing from the group. Marc remains out indefinitely with an eye injury suffered earlier this month. His younger sibling, Jordan, was traded this summer from Pittsburgh to Carolina, where he joined the eldest Staal brother, Eric, on the Hurricanes.

Staal streaking: Speaking of Eric Staal, the Canes' captain enters MSG on a four-game point streak, with five points (one goal, four assists) during that span. Staal leads Carolina with 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) although former Capital Alexander Semin is not far behind. Semin is also riding a four-game point streak (two goals, four assists); he has eight goals and 21 assists in his first season with the Hurricanes.

Similar slump: Although the Canes still retain a grip on the last playoff spot in the East, they are also trying to halt a mini-skid of their own. Carolina has dropped its past two games -- a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and a 3-2 defeat to the Capitals on Thursday.