With the win, the Rangers ended their longest losing skid since December of 2006 and aptly ended an abysmal weekend in New York for the Pittsburgh Penguins. After giving up two late third-period goals that cost them two points in the standings against Atlanta Friday night, Sunday’s rally showed the type of resolve that has defined the Rangers’ season. They currently sit seventh in the East with 64 points, four ahead of Atlanta and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Escape From New York
The Penguins have to be happy this weekend is over. After a brawl-filled 9-3 debacle on Long Island Friday and an accident involving their team bus on Saturday -- one that sent the pad-clad Pens into a bunch of NYC taxis -- this was a weekend to forget. When Pittsburgh took the ice, you didn’t just need a program to identify the team in white, you needed an appendix from their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as well. The Pens’ Sunday roster featured five players with 10 games or fewer in the NHL this season.
If you like scoring, you loved this game. The first 10 minutes featured four goals, the first two going to a fired-up Penguins team determined to end their embarrassing weekend. But the next five went to the boys in blue.
Trailing 2-0 and after a timeout from John Tortorella, Brian Boyle got the Rangers back on track with a textbook series in the Penguins’ zone. After winning the faceoff back to Marc Staal, Boyle drove the net and deflected a slapshot from Staal between the pads of G Marc-Andre Fleury to stop the bleeding and give the Rangers some much-needed confidence.
The Blueshirts then evened the ledger with a PP goal from Ryan Callahan when the RW deflected home a shot from Daniel Girardi at roughly the 9:30 mark.
Setting The Tone
The timeout by Tortorella after the Rangers fell behind 2-0 was particularly notable. In the midst of a six-game skid and immediately yielding the first two goals Sunday, the characteristically fiery Blueshirts bench boss did not light into his team. Instead he seemed to speak calmly to try to relax his squad after a jittery start. The team followed his lead and, after Boyle’s goal, really ignited.
The Rangers made it three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead just two minutes into the second, tapping home a cross-crease pass from Brandon Dubinsky. Another PP goal by Callahan upped the margin to 4-2, marking just the second game since Dec. 27 the Rangers had scored more than three goals in a game. It was also the first time the Blueshirts bettered the two-goal barrier since Feb. 1 when the Pens downed the Rangers 4-3 in a shootout. Artem Anisimov pushed it to 5-2 with the Rangers' third PPG of the game, a season high for what had been an absolutely dormant unit lately.
Wojtek Wolski looked like he strained a groin muscle near the end of the first period and after giving it a go in the second was not on the Rangers bench to start the third. In all he played 8:23 Sunday and we’ll wait for word on his injury.
The Los Angeles Kings, themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Western Conference, come to MSG Thursday for a 7 p.m. tilt. The Rangers have just one more game against the Penguins, March 20 in Pittsburgh.