For the second time in his young NHL career, Dan Blackburn finds himself as the Rangers starting goaltender in place of the club’s injured wins leader, Mike Richter. And for the second time, the 19-year old is grabbing the bull by the horns and proving why he is the Blueshirt goalie of the future – and for now, the present.
Blackburn was stellar between the pipes once again Tuesday night in the Rangers’ 3-2 OT win over Anaheim, turning aside 32 of 34 shots (including 20 in the second period to keep the score even at 2-2) to improve to 4-2-0-0 in the last six games. Blackburn has started each of those games with Richter sidelined due to a concussion.
“He’s played so strong for us ever since Mike has been out,” noted Eric Lindros after Tuesday’s win. “He’s been real consistent. He was very strong in the third in San Jose and Calgary. Even in Vancouver and (tonight) again. He’s on a roll and we’re lucky to have him.”
Last season, Blackburn was thrust into a similar situation after Richter went down with a fractured temporal bone in his skull on March 22. The rookie started each of the remaining nine games, posting a 5-4-0-0 mark along with an impressive .902 save percentage.
"It's my second season, so I have a lot more confidence," said Blackburn. "I'm getting more comfortable being in there."
NOTES: Tonight’s start against New Jersey will be his seventh consecutive after appearing in only four of the first 15 games of the season … Blackburn opened his recent six-game stretch with a 1-0 OT win over the Calgary Flames at MSG, marking his first career NHL shutout. He became the third youngest goaltender in NHL history to record a shutout after his 26-save performance … Blackburn has appeared in one career match vs. New Jersey, a 4-3 loss on February 26 at MSG.