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Blueshirts beat Caps by a touchdown

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky, who had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with a goal, assist and fight, celebrates his tally at 4:30 of the second period.

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By Jim Cerny,

Twenty-four hours after an extremely disappointing 3-1 loss on the road in Columbus, the Rangers returned home to Madison Square Garden on Sunday night and responded in extremely positive fashion with a dominating 7-0 victory over Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

The win puts the Rangers at a perfect 8-0-0 in second games of back-to-backs so far this season. Overall, the Blueshirts have now won six of their last nine games and 11 of 17.

One night after surrendering a late fluky goal to Rick Nash, which cost the Rangers the game, Henrik Lundqvist bounced back on Sunday with a 31-save shutout, his fifth of the year and 29th of his career.

“It really bothered me (Saturday night), and I probably didn’t let go of it until during the day (Sunday),” said Lundqvist. “I was happy they put me back in there (Sunday) so that I could get it out of my system. Sometimes when I get upset with myself I use it as energy for the next game. And this was the answer I was looking for.”

Lundqvist was extremely sharp in the opening period and he retained his focus even as the Rangers built a substantial lead. His teammates seemed to want this shutout badly for Lundqvist, and they played with impressive passion down the stretch despite holding a seven-goal lead.

When asked to make the big one-on-one save, Lundqvist did just that, flashing his glove hand in the air to rob Washington’s Mathieu Perrault from the slot with 5:38 left to play to preserve the shutout.

“I think the big thing for us was how he responded, making some huge saves for us early in the game and obviously in the third period on Perrault in front of the net,” Brandon Dubinsky said of Lundqvist. “We wanted to lock it down and get it for him because the way he showed up tonight and the way he responded.”

After taking a 1-0 lead on Brandon Prust’s fourth goal of the season 17:57 into the opening period the Rangers exploded for four goals against the struggling Caps in the second to effectively put the game away.

Rangers teammates Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal celebrate with Marian Gaborik after Gaborik deflected in a Staal power-play shot at 3:07 of the second period for a 3-0 Blueshirts lead on Sunday.
Three of those four second-period goals were scored by the Rangers in the first 4:30 -- before Washington had even managed a shot on goal against Lundqvist.

Artem Anisimov got the Rangers rolling just 59 seconds into the second when he took advantage of Boyd Gordon’s giveaway at center ice, skated over the blueline, and wired a wicked rising snap shot between the defenseman’s legs and into the top corner of the cage from straightaway. The goal was Anisimov’s eighth of the season and first in 11 games.

“ I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think Artie has really played well these last two games,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella said of Anisimov. “I used Artie’s line all night against their top line, and our guys did the job. I am very happy with Artie’s game the last two nights.”

Shortly after Anisimov’s goal, Washington’s Scott Hannan was penalized for holding, and the Rangers took advantage by scoring an important power-play goal, their ninth in the past 12 games, to forge a 3-0 lead.

Michal Rozsival made a quick return pass to Marc Staal on left wing and, provided some extra room, Staal fired a shot towards the net that was deflected past goaltender Semyon Varlamov by Marian Gaborik at the 3:07 mark. Gaborik’s ninth goal provided the Rangers the breathing room which had eluded them while holding a one-goal lead Saturday in Columbus.

“I think from a team aspect everyone was going,” said center Brian Boyle. “Everyone contributed. This was a fun one.”

The Rangers were far from done in expanding their lead. Dubinsky stunned Varlamov with a delayed shot from the slot at 4:30 and the Rangers were up 4-0. At that point the Rangers had scored three goals on their first five shots in the second period, and four goals on 13 shots in total.

Dubinsky’s goal -- his team-leading 14th -- might have been the one which really finished off a demoralized Caps squad, but he wasn’t finished putting his stamp on the game. Five minutes after scoring his goal, Dubinsky engaged Ovechkin in an angry fight at center ice after Ovechkin had leveled Dan Girardi in the Rangers’ end.

“I really respect the way he plays and how hard he is and obviously the skill level he has, but at the same time I turn around and see one of my teammates on the ice so I’m going to try and protect him,” said Dubinsky. “He is a competitor, and it was a good battle.”

Although Ovechkin was game -- and even initiated the fisticuffs -- Dubinsky hammered the Caps superstar captain during the fight before throwing Ovechkin down hard to the ice. As the crowd rained loud cheers of “Duuuu” down to the ice, Ovechkin angrily faced his own bench and screamed at his teammates to show some fight and emotion.

Rangers forward Brandon Prust was all smiles after opening the scoring at 17:57 of the first period. Little did Prust or any of the other players know it would be the first of seven unanswered goals.
With the loss, Washington is now shockingly winless in six straight games (0-5-1), and clearly Ovechkin was showing the frustration of this recent poor stretch of play.

Instead of things getting better for the Caps, they got worse. Staal scored shorthanded, off a 2-on-1 rush with Boyle, at 10:42 of the second and the Rangers were up 5-0, a lead they would carry into the third period. Ryan Callahan closed things out by scoring twice -- his ninth and 10th of the season -- in the third period.

“Against this team no lead is ever safe,” said Lundqvist. “Even when we scored the fourth and scored the fifth, it’s just not safe. They can get one or two quick ones and then it’s a game. So it was very important that we kept going and scoring. It was a good feeling when we got to six goals and seven goals.”

In all, seven different Rangers recorded two points in the game. Callahan scored twice; Boyle and Girardi had two assists apiece; and Dubinsky, Anisimov, Prust, and Staal each scored a goal and added a helper.

The seven-goal outburst marked the fourth time this season that the Blueshirts had scored at least six times in a game. They fell one shy of their high-water mark of eight scored against the Edmonton Oilers at MSG back on Nov. 14.

Washington surrendered seven goals in a game for the first time this season.

With another successful three-games-in-four-nights behind them the Rangers will have a day off on Monday before returning to practice on Tuesday. The Rangers’ next game is Wednesday in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. That game, according to Tortorella, should see the return to action of team captain Chris Drury, who has been cleared by doctors to rejoin the lineup after missing all but one game this season with a broken finger.
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