Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Rangers inch closer to playoffs with crazy comeback
By Matt Ehalt
NEW YORK—John Tortorella isn’t a “love fest guy” by his own accord.
But following the Rangers 5-3 come-from-behind win against the Bruins Monday night, Tortorella became almost giddy about his team.
“I just like how we stuck to it and we showed (guts),” Tortorella said. “It was really good stuff.”
In one of their most impressive displays of resiliency, the Rangers from form behind against one of the best teams in the East in Boston and one of the best goalies in the league in Tim Thomas. As early as halfway through the second period, with Boston leading 3-0, the game seemed like a Boston rout and a bad loss for the Rangers considering they had shown little fight.
Finally, something clicked.
Vinny Prospal scored two goals in the second to slice the lead to 3-2 entering the third period. In the third, after grinding for more than 16 minutes, the Rangers tied the game on a goal by Brandon Dubinsky. Just 51 seconds later, Michael Sauer put the Rangers ahead. And in the final minute, with Thomas pulled, Derek Stepan sealed the game with an open net goal.
“It’s amazing to see how the guys kept working,” goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “We responded in a big way when we needed it most. Big credit to all guys who kept working hard. The third period has been big for us this year. To get that second goal going into the third period was huge for us. We didn’t panic, we didn’t stress. It was a great feeling.”
The Rangers also helped themselves immensely in their quest for a playoff spot. Had the Rangers lost, and Carolina won Wednesday vs. Detroit, the Rangers would’ve been tied for eighth place, but on the outside looking in because of tie-breaking scenarios.
Instead, the Rangers are now tied with Montreal for sixth in the conference, although the Canadiens have the tiebreaker, and one point ahead of Buffalo for the No. 7 seed. The Rangers are also four points ahead of Carolina and have trimmed their magic number down to three. Any combination of three Rangers points/points Carolina misses out on will result in a playoff spot.
Monday night could’ve been a game that led to the Rangers season ending early. Instead, it turned out to be a game that could be the defining moment of the season if they make the playoffs.
“We came up from being down three goals and made it 3-3,” forward Brian Boyle said. “You feel like you can accomplish something. When you give up three, the momentum is against you and you are vulnerable. Things starting to work in our favor. We just kept at it and we got the dirty goals we needed.”