It was a Sutter-style grind at the Garden, but a PP goal by Daniel Girardi gave the Rangers the 2-1 decision Monday night. Neither team established much flow on what felt like crowded ice, failing to earn many good scoring opportunities. An own-goal got things started for the Rangers and a Girardi's gave Martin Biron enough to hang on for the win. Here’s the Rapid Reaction.
SAUER PUSS: Michael Sauer made no friends with the Flames. A boarding call 7:10 into the game triggered a series of three fights (two with new Flame Tom Kostopoulos and a third with Stefan Meyer) that sidelined him for all but 2:44 of the first period.
FORGETTABLE FIRST: Save for the Sauer vendetta, the first didn’t feature much action. The Rangers got out of the gates well -- racing to an 8-1 lead in the shots department -- but the Flames closed it up and pulled it to 8-6 by the first horn. Derek Stepan may have had the best scoring chance, collecting a rebound and firing off a pair of point-blank shots, but he was halted by a pair of Miikka Kiprusoff saves.
FROM A SIMMER TO A BOYLE: Brian Boyle netted his ninth goal of the season when a crossing attempt on a 2-on-0 to Ruslan Fedotenko deflected off the stick of a diving D Brendan Mikkelson and past Kiprusoff. Pretty? Hardly. But is it effective? Absolutely.
HE'S HEATING UP: Jarome Iginla converted a 3-on-1 break to knot the score at 1. It was Iginla’s ninth of the season and sixth in the past three games. Are the Flames sure they don’t want to put him on the trade table? Please? Another thought: Who would have thought that Boyle and Iginla would have the same goal total some 20 games into the season?
CALLY, HO! A huge (clean) hit by Ryan Callahan on Jay Bouwmeester enraged Curtis Glencross into taking a retaliatory penalty at 12:27 in the second. That set up a go-ahead goal by Dan Girardi. Girardi slapped a bomb under Kiprusoff’s catching glove off a rare clean faceoff win by Stepan.
DUBY, D’OH! The Rangers gave the Flames an early chance to knot things up in the third period when a high-stick by Brandon Dubinsky interrupted a terrific cycle and set the Blueshirts shorthanded. A pair of selfless blocks by Steve Eminger, including one that appeared to catch him in the posterior, killed off the threat.
HEAD’S UP: The doldrums of the mid-third period dissipated when Marc Staal caught Matt Stajan coming across the blue line with his head down and sent the Flames center into another dimension. On first impression from the press box it looked like a clean hit, but it certainly riled up the Flames who began picking fights the following shift. They stopped fantasizing for fisticuffs when Tortorella turned the Boogie Man loose. More than a few Flames declined invitations to dance with the Blueshirts' behemoth.
ANOTHER BIRON BEAUTY: Martin Biron maintained his superlative form against the Flames, stopping a number of close-in chances in the third when the Rangers may have been distracted by the rising temperature of the temperaments and forgot it was still a one-goal hockey game. But Biron bailed them out, earning the double-bass drum "Mar-ty!" chant and the game's first star along the way.