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Newcomers come up big as Rangers rout Penguins

by Tal Pinchevsky /

NEW YORK -- On a day when news of Marian Gaborik's trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets made waves around the League, it was the players the Rangers received just before the trade deadline who made their mark.

Ryane Clowe scored twice in his Rangers debut while Brian Boyle and fellow newcomer Derick Brassard each added a goal and three assists as New York beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-1 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Ryan McDonagh and New York's third newcomer, defenseman John Moore, also scored for the Rangers (16-15-3) and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for the win, which moved the Rangers from ninth to seventh place in the East. The Rangers, Islanders and New Jersey Devils all have 39 points, but the Rangers have more non-shootout wins than the Devils and both teams have a game in hand on the Islanders.

Pascal Dupuis had the lone goal for Pittsburgh (28-10-0), which got 33 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury. The win was New York's first at home against Pittsburgh since Nov. 29, 2011, and handed the Penguins a second consecutive loss after winning 15 straight games.

The final buzzer brought to a close a hectic day for Clowe, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks late Tuesday for three draft picks. But the arrival in New York was even more manic for Brassard and Moore, who were acquired just hours before the game along with Derek Dorsett and a sixth-round pick in exchange for Gaborik and defensemen Steve Delisle and Blake Parlett.

While Clowe was able to join his new teammates for their morning skate, the other additions arrived in New York less than an hour before warmups and rushed into the dressing room as the team was preparing to take the ice.

"I shook their hands and said 'go have fun.' That’s' all we had time for," coach John Tortorella said. "It's like when you bring your kids to the rink and you're late. That's what it was like for these guys. Everyone was coming up to introduce themselves and they're trying to get their [gear] on."

Despite the late arrival, Brassard made a quick impression.

Midway through the opening period, with Chris Kunitz in the penalty box for slashing, Brassard made a nifty move at the right circle before passing back to Brad Richards, whose point shot deflected off Boyle and past a screened Fleury.

Just 2:18 later, Richards found the puck in the corner before feeding a perfect pass to the oncoming McDonagh, who buried his third of the season. Clowe's assist on the play gave him his first point as a Ranger, which he followed up two minutes later with his first goal of the season. The gritty winger, who spent parts of the game playing in Gaborik's old spot alongside Richards and Mats Zuccarello, tucked a backhand past Fleury after Derek Stepan batted the puck away from Brooks Orpik.

"He [Stepan] made a great play and the puck popped right out to me," said Clowe, who had two points and a game-high three shots in the first period after collecting 11 points and no goals through 28 games with the Sharks ."Just one of those bang-bang plays. The plays you like when you're looking for your first goal."

In a first period that saw the Penguins go without a shot for almost 11 minutes, Clowe appeared to find instant chemistry with Richards -- who like his new linemate grew up in the Maritime region of Eastern Canada.

"We had a quick 'how do you do?' and 'how was your flight?' when we got to the game. That's all it took. Some Maritime, Atlantic Canada chemistry," Richards said. "He does the little thing and he's a big body. That's his bread and butter and that's what we've been missing around here. You can see how much it helped tonight."

Showing no signs of rust following his late arrival, Brassard got his first goal as a Ranger 1:53 into the second while the Penguins played shorthanded. With Evgeni Malkin in the box for tripping, Brassard found the rebound off Dan Girardi's point shot and lifted a backhander over Fleury. Dupuis got the Penguins on the board 34 seconds later, but Clowe would make it a night to remember midway through the period, taking a perfect backhand pass from Brassard before scoring his second goal of the game. It was the Rangers' third power-play goal of the night, exceeding their combined total from their previous 11 games.

Like most of the Rangers' offense Wednesday night, the goal came courtesy of aggressive play around the Pittsburgh net. That particular style of play was pivotal to the New York attack and appeared to give the Penguins fits all night.

"We were forced by their forecheck and forced by their speed," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "They forced us into those turnovers and they certainly took advantage and put us back on our heels. They forced us into spots and came at us aggressively."

Not to be outdone by his fellow newcomers, Moore scored his first of the season when his third-period point shot deflected off Matt Cooke's stick and past Fleury. Playing primarily alongside veteran Steve Eminger, Moore's slick skating earned praise from his new coach.

"Moore is the one I'm really interested in because I know the least about him. I thought he did a terrific job defending," Tortorella said. "You can see Brassard's skill. He can pass the puck, scores a goal, was good on faceoffs."

Looking ahead to a rematch against the Penguins on Friday night at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Tortorella was particularly intrigued by Clowe. Not so much for what the gritty forward provided on the ice Wednesday night, but for what he could potentially bring to the locker room moving forward.

"From what I understand, he's a guy who will speak up in the locker room. Which is good," Tortorella said. "As he gets more comfortable with the guys, I think you have another leader coming in here. That's a good thing for our team."

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