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Dubinsky's pair leads Rangers past Hawks

by Dave Lozo
NEW YORK -- The wheels were supposed to come off once the New York Rangers lost Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal for an extended period of time. Instead, the Rangers are just plugging right along thanks to their new top line.

Brandon Dubinsky scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season and linemates Artem Anisimov and Ryan Callahan assisted on both goals as the Rangers earned a hard-fought 3-2 victory against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.

Erik Christensen scored the game-winner 28 seconds after Blackhawks star Patrick Kane tied the game at 2-2 at 6:08 of the third period.

The Rangers improved to 5-3-0 since losing Drury and Gaborik in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 15. A lot of that can be attributed to Dubinsky, Callahan and Anisimov, who have 10 goals and 14 assists in those eight games.

"A big part of this game is playing with some confidence and that's what I'm doing right now," said Callahan, who has points in seven consecutive games. "It's a pleasure to be able to play with Dubie and Artie. They hold on to the puck so good in the offensive zone. I just try to get open.

"We just seem to be able to find each other. We know where we're going and we've played together now for a bunch of games and we're getting used to each other and things are clicking. You get chemistry with guys. I played with Dubie before a little bit in (AHL) Hartford, same with Artie. Right now it's clicking."

It looked like the chemistry of that line was going to be counteracted by the Rangers' struggles at home early. Forward Tomas Kopecky put the Blackhawks (7-6-1) up 1-0 with 2:47 to go in the first period when he deflected a point blast from defenseman Duncan Keith.

But great work by the Rangers' top line in the waning seconds of the period evened the score.

Callahan centered a pass from behind the net to Dubinsky, who had his initial shot blocked. But Anisimov tipped the puck back to Dubinsky, who was able to chip it over Blackhawks goaltender Marty Turco.

After a scoreless second period, Dubinsky's seventh of the season gave the Rangers (6-4-1) a 2-1 lead 55 seconds into the third period. A long pass by defenseman Michael Del Zotto missed everyone and came to rest behind the Blackhawks net. Anisimov slid the puck to Callahan, who hit Dubinsky near the top of the crease for the power-play goal.

Callahan was late getting to the bench to start the third period because he was receiving stitches in his leg after blocking a shot by Keith in the second period. But he arrived in time to set up a goal that had Dubinsky raving about the pass afterward.

"He's a great player and he's really coming into his own offensively," Dubinsky said. "He's such a leader and he leads by example each and every night. He's getting rewarded for it.

"In order for us to be successful we got to make sure we have a lot of energy and that work ethic because we're not going to get by on talent alone. When you put those things together, we have enough talent to get some points and score some goals."

Dubinsky's line provided the bulk of the offense, but Christensen's goal was the biggest of the game.

Kane tied the score at 2-2 with a goal that was eerily similar to his Cup-winner against the Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton in Game 6 of last season's Final. Kane whipped a wrist shot from a bad angle that caught Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist guessing pass. It slipped through his legs and took the air of out the building.

But Christensen answered by picking up a loose puck that was the result of good forechecking by forward Brandon Prust and fired a wrist shot over the catching glove of Turco to put the Rangers ahead for good.

"It was huge," said Dubinsky, whose line gave the puck away seconds before Kane scored. "It's a big momentum shift right after a goal's scored. For him to come back and bury one right away, it felt like we didn't miss a beat. Their goal kind of got right out of your head and right back to the way we needed to play."

"I'm sure everyone was thinking, 'Here we go again, they can't win in this building,' " said Christensen, who was referring to the Rangers' 1-3-1 mark at home entering Monday's game. "I was kind of hoping the puck would find me. It was nice the way it came to me. It was a good boost for our team at the right time of the game."

The Blackhawks wouldn't go quietly, however. With Turco on the bench for an extra attacker, Tomas Kopecky was robbed by a sprawling Lundqvist, who made 33 saves to earn his fourth win in five starts. Kopecky then drew a tripping penalty on Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi to give the Blackahawks a 6-on-4 advantage for the final 26 seconds.

But Lundqvist stopped Kane with 10 seconds to go to seal the victory.

"I don't think it was hard to keep concentration there. After the second goal, that is the challenge," Lundqvist said. "The challenge for me is to refocus. We responded the right way and it was good for the team."
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