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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Prior to Friday’s game at the Prudential Center against the Devils, Rangers head coach John Tortorella had many important, and difficult, decisions to make regarding his lineup, because Ryan Callahan
had joined Marian Gaborik
, Chris Drury, and Vinny Prospal on the sidelines due to an injury suffered during the previous night’s game with the Flyers.
Tortorella, though, contended that his goaltender decision was a much easier one to make. Henrik Lundqvist
would get the call against New Jersey, despite coming off a 4-1 defeat in Philadelphia 24 hours prior.
Good call, coach.
Lundqvist turned in an outstanding 33-save effort, leading the Rangers to an important 3-0 victory over their Hudson River rivals. With the win the Rangers, who have won three of their last four games overall, made sure to keep the Devils winless on home ice this season (0-5-1).
“I don’t think it was an easy win, but I felt more controlled out there than I did a couple of times (Thursday) night,” said Lundqvist. “It was important for us to come back with a strong effort after the loss. We did a lot of good things, played with a lot of grit. Beating the Devils is always a good thing.”
Although the final score might seem to indicate a fairly easy shutout victory for Lundqvist and the Rangers, it was anything but, especially over the game’s initial 40 minutes when the Devils greatly controlled the play for long stretches. It was during those sequences where Lundqvist proved to be the best player on the ice Friday night.
“Henrik is Henrik, it’s what’s to be expected,” said Tortorella. “It’s something I’ve always appreciated about him the short time I’ve been with him, he’s a competitor. You don’t have to worry about how he’s going to handle himself. He’s got that in him, and I truly respect that about him.”
|Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky extended his goals streak to a career-high three with two more goals on Friday night and now has 10 goals on the young season, putting him in a tie for the NHL lead. |
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The Rangers were outshot by an 11-4 margin in the first period, yet thanks to Lundqvist’s solid play and the first of two Brandon Dubinsky
goals on the night, they exited the ice after the opening stanza holding a 1-0 lead.
During the second period, the visitors were outshot 12-8, a somewhat deceiving total considering the several times that the Rangers were pinned for extended periods deep in their own end as Lundqvist calmly denied shot after shot.
In that middle period Lundqvist made, perhaps, his two best saves of the night. At 13:38 he flashed his glove high into the air to deflect Ilya Kovalchuk’s wicked rising snap shot from the left wing, one that seemingly was ticketed to the far upper corner of the net. Then later in the period Lundqvist was in perfect position to stop Jamie Langenbrunner’s deflection from in front.
“He’s just world-class, what can you say?” Brian Boyle
said of Lundqvist. “He’s a huge part of our team, obviously, and we start and end with him.”
The Rangers rewarded Lundqvist with Boyle’s power-play goal with 35.5 seconds left in the second, and then added more breathing room when Dubinsky scored shorthanded 3:41 into the third period.
“We hung in there,” explained Tortorella. “At times we were outquicked and couldn’t get to pucks, but we stayed with it. It’s a beat-up team, even the guys that are playing are banged up, so I just like how we played as a team.”
With two wins in two starts vs. the Devils already this season, Lundqvist now is 20-7-5 all-time vs. New Jersey. Friday was his 26th career shutout and fifth against the Devils.
During the third period rhythmic chants of “Hen-rik! Hen-rik!” filled the Prudential Center from the grateful Rangers fans on hand.
“It felt good,” said Lundqvist. “It was a good win. Starting with me doing my thing, I think everyone is happy with the two big points.”
|With his second-period goal, Rangers center Brian Boyle set a career-high of five goals in one season -- with a whole 69 games left to play in 2010-11. |
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Playing without their leading scorer and alternate captain Callahan, the Rangers received a big-time performance from Dubinsky up front. Dubinsky recorded his third two-goal game of the season, giving him 10 on the season, which ties Dubinsky for the NHL lead.
Dubinsky, who has scored five goals in the last three games, swept an errant Artem Anisimov
shot past a surprised Johan Hedberg 7:35 into the first period to open the scoring. He later scored shorthanded by banging in a rebound after Todd White’s partial breakaway was denied by Hedberg, who started in the place of an injured Martin Brodeur.
“What works for me is playing hard and keeping my feet moving,” said Dubinsky. “I don’t have the (Steven) Stamkos talent. I don’t have the Kovalchuk talent. What I’ve said all year, when we’ve been successful, we’ve made up for talent with energy and effort.”
Although he did not record a point on the play, Dubinsky also had a hand in the other Rangers’ goal. Dubinsky won the offensive-zone faceoff that led to Boyle’s goal -- a deflection of Dan Girardi
’s slap shot. That goal, Boyle’s fifth of the season, established a new single-season career high for the hard-working center.
“It is a career-year for me, hopefully it’s not over,” said Boyle jokingly following the game. “I got the monkey off my back with number five, I guess.”
Off to a solid 7-5-1 start to the season, and with their 15 points ranking second-best in the Atlantic Division, the Rangers will embark on a four-game homestand that begins Sunday night with a tilt against the St. Louis Blues at The Garden.