Until Monday, Mike Rupp's biggest moment as a New York Ranger was his heated and hilarious exchange with Flyers tough guy Jody Shelley caught on camera during episode 3 of HBO's "24/7."
Not after the Rangers 3-2 win over the Flyers in the 2012 Winter Classic, however.
The 31-year-old veteran tallied twice to erase a 2-0 deficit and boost his team to an epic victory over their Atlantic Division rivals in the league's celebrated showcase of the sport. Rupp's standout game of the season -- his first multi-goal effort sine November 2009 -- was the highlight for a team that once again relied on its resilience to pull through and prevail.
"I think that's one of the great things from this team -- it comes from all over.. We've got some big-time players on our team, but we also have a lot of character [guys] on our team that will step up when we need," said Rupp who was awarded the game's first star and the team's Broadway hat.
Rupp, who also played in last year's Winter Classic while with the Pittsburgh Penguins, cut the Flyers' 2-0 lead in half with a sharp wrister at 14:51 of the second and beat Flyers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky short-side to tie the game at 2:41 in the third.
"You want to contribute in some way," said a modest Rupp. "We all have to find a way to play and contribute each night whether it's scoring a goal or making sure you're not turning the puck over in the neutral zone."
Coach John Tortorella sounded thrilled for Rupp, who has struggled this season after missing 22 games with a knee injury in October. Rupp is a well-respected, blue-collar veteran but one that has been inconsistent in his first year as a Ranger. Tortorella has, a times, struggled to find minutes for him but was glad to see him rewarded Monday.
The Rangers signed Rupp for more than his bulk and brawn -- the "heavy lifting" the team's hard-nosed identity so desperately requires -- but Tortorella has confident that he and fellow grinder Brandon Prust can be effective players as well.
Prust picked up assists on both of Rupp's goals.
"To see them ignite us a little bit -- not only me, but the team, I
think that's important," Tortorella said. "They are glue guys. They are very important to the team in the room, and I think everybody pulls for those type of players, because they know they are being taken care of on the ice with them, and so it was a good thing to see."