The Rangers’ Kids Day clash saw young faces in the stands and on the ice with the Edmonton Oilers in town. When the final horn sounded, it was the Rangers teaching the rookie-laden Oilers a few lessons in a slump-busting 8-2 victory in which several Blueshirts broke out.
Marian Gaborik gave the youths a little something to remember him by, scoring his first three goals of the 2010-11 season to earn a hat trick.
Most Hat Tricks
The Rangers’ kid, Derek Stepan, had pair of assists. On the first helper, Stepan eluded defenseman Jason Strudwick and found Artem Anisimov at the back door for the goal. The points end a long drought for Stepan, who hadn’t figured into a goal since Oct. 21.
And that’s just a small sample of all the action that went down on the Garden ice Sunday.
And For His Next Trick…
Gaborik’s first goal of the season was probably the ugliest of his career, but it counts all the same. Gaborik stripped the puck from Andrew Cogliano behind the Oilers net and somehow slipped it under the pads of Khabibulin. His next two goals were more traditional for the sniper, beating the Oiler netminder on a pair of breakaways. Gaborik also finished with an assist and a plus-five rating. Not too shabby.
Shouldering the Load
Gaborik looked fine after ramming his left shoulder into the post while potting his second marker of the night. That was the same shoulder that sidelined him for the past four weeks, and he looked a little sore after he slowly picked himself off the ice. But he showed no ill effects for the rest of the game.
The Hits Just Keep on Comin’
The Rangers wanted to establish a physical tone against the younger (and smaller) Oilers, and certainly did so based on the first-period hit totals. The Rangers dished out 21 hits in the first 20 minutes, including four each by Marc Staal and Ryan Callahan.
It wasn’t all pretty for the Rangers and I really fought the urge to invoke an infamous Sean Avery quote to describe the Blueshirts’ ugly second-period lapse. The Rangers fell asleep for just a minute and it cost them a pair of goals in the early second period. The first marker followed a terrific minute-long cycle by the Gaborik-Christensen-Frolov line when all five Blueshirts chased puck carrier Jordan Eberle, who deftly slipped the puck to Randy Jones at the goal mouth for the score. Shawn Horcoff followed up about 30 seconds later with a wrister that somehow eluded the glove of Martin Biron.
No, Seriously, Don’t Blink
Four minutes after the pair of Oilers’ strikes, the Rangers tallied twice in 24 seconds. A breakaway goal by Gaborik was followed by a Brian Boyle one-timer to regain the lead, 3-2. The goal-scoring of Boyle has been a very welcome surprise this season. He now has eight goals this season, his previous career high was four. Moreover, the goals aren’t the product of surrounding talent as Boyle has usually centered the third or fourth line this season.
In the third period, things took an ugly turn that resulted in 87 minutes of penalties. As Sean Avery was being escorted off the ice after dropping an unsuspecting Ladislav Smid, Theo Peckham jumped off the Edmonton bench to chase Avery off the ice and throw some verbal barbs. That ignited a massive brawl that spilled into the Ranger bench when Colin Fraser started throwing punches at a seated Brandon Dubinsky. It was a suspension-worthy affair to be sure, but it certainly seemed like the Oilers will have more to fear from the league office than the Rangers. Remember folks, it’s for the kids.
Prior to the battle royale, in a true clash of the heavyweights, Derek Boogaard showed he’s more than just a goal-scorer when he dropped the gloves twice with Steve MacIntyre. The Boogie Man had to work to free his right hand from MacIntyre’s strong grasp, but once free, a series of head shots knocked off the Oiler enforcer’s helmet and earned Boogaard the decision. MacIntyre fared a little better the second go-round, but he still didn’t really land any punches before the pair tired out.
Biron Back In Net
With Henrik Lundqvist less than 100 percent, the Rangers put Biron back between the pipes. That’s the luxury the Rangers now have with a very solid understudy. Biron only saw 21 shots, but (with the exception of the Oilers’ second goal) was very strong. His best save came in the first period, stoning Horcoff on the doorstep during a first-period Oiler power play.