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Friday, December 10, 2010
Sauer gives Rangers a sweet W

By Mike Hume

The Blueshirts poured in five goals from five different players, including the game-winner from Michael Sauer -- his first-ever NHL marker -- to top the Sens 5-3 Thursday night.

Trailing 3-2 heading into the third, Erik Christensen tied the score three-and-a-half minutes into the third, before Sauer contributed a rare Rangers power play goal with 5:20 to go to give the Blueshirts the lead for good.

The Rangers have now won seven of their past 10 games and look increasingly more like a playoff team -- at least when they play to their full effort level like Thursday night. They currently stand tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with the Boston Bruins with 35 points, trailing the Philadelphia Flyers by six points.

However, the biggest news from this game may have been the healthy scratch of Rangers D Michael Del Zotto. With just 2 goals and 6 assists this season, Del Zotto has been struggling to find the potent offensive game that made him a fan-favorite last season.

Here’s what head coach John Tortorella had to say on the subject before the game, via Jesse Spector of the Daily News:
“Just a coaching decision,” John Tortorella said. “I think, for young players, and it hasn’t happened with Michael often, it’s not a bad thing to watch. I don’t think his game has been terrible, but I think it has teetered in all different areas as we’ve gone through the past few weeks. Gilly [Matt Gilroy] was playing fairly good when we took him out, and we’re going to give him another opportunity here. For a young guy, to sit back and watch, it isn’t a bad thing.”

And Del Zotto’s reaction, again via Spector:
“It’s frustrating not being able to contribute, knowing it’s part of my job,” Del Zotto said. “I’ve felt like I’ve had chances this year. I just haven’t found the back of the net, and haven’t put up points. That’s the biggest thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting chances, you’ve got to put the points up. Like I said, it’s part of my job, and I’ve just got to keep doing everything I can.”

As Spector notes in his blog, the response is a mature one from Del Zotto, a trait that several of the Rangers’ youngsters (Derek Stepan especially) seem to share. You can bet MDZ will be back in the lineup Saturday when the Blueshirts head to Columbus.