Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Penguins 1
By Katie Strang
NEW YORK -- The Rangers built a 2-0 lead in the first period and never looked back as they dispatched an elite Pittsburgh Penguins team 5-1 at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night.
What it means:Brian Boyle led the way with a goal and an assist in the blue-collar effort that allowed New York to snap Pittsburgh’s four-game winning streak. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was superb and the Rangers were able to hold superstar Sidney Crosby off the scoresheet for the first time in five games. The Blueshirts are still one game shy of .500 with a 7-8-0 record as they travel to Columbus for Thursday night’s back-to-back contest against the Blue Jackets.
Finishing strong: The Rangers looked flat-footed and outclassed by the Penguins in the opening minutes of the first period -- Lundqvist was forced to make a save on a streaking Crosby the first shift -- but the Blueshirts gained momentum as the period progressed.
Winning races and puck battles, the Rangers mounted a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Boyle made a great hustle play behind the net to connect with defenseman Ryan McDonagh at the left faceoff circle for the game’s first goal. The Rangers tallied another with less than a minute remaining as Mats Zuccarello forced a neutral-zone turnover and executed a terrific lead pass to spring Derek Stepan on a breakaway. Stepan scored his third goal in the past two games to give the Rangers a 2-0 cushion.
Sparking speculation: For the second time in three nights, the trio of Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish and Mark Messier took in a game at MSG.
Naturally, the Edmonton Oilers brass’ presence at the Garden fueled trade rumors.
The downtrodden Oilers are toiling at the bottom of the Western Conference with only ten points and a 4-10-2 record, sparking speculation that they might be on the lookout for help. It stands to reason that Edmonton would be in the market for either a defenseman or goaltender (or both).
What remains to be seen is whether they’d be willing to dangle talented young forward Nail Yakupov as the carrot in the other end of a deal. The former first overall pick in the 2012 draft has been inconsistent during his short tenure with the Oil, but coach Dallas Eakins was emphatic in assuring the 20-year-old forward he won’t be dealt, according to recent reports.