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Prospects Fly Past Tampa Bay 6-4 in Opening Game

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Brandon Dubinsky scored two goals and assisted on another by Lauri Korpikoski, his teammate in Hartford last season.
The Rangers prospects got off to a big start in the eight-team Traverse City Prospects Tournament on Friday night in Traverse City, Mich., beating Tampa Bay 6-4 on the strength of three third-period goals.

Lauri Korpikoski and Brandon Dubinsky each scored twice for the Blueshirts, who outshot the Lightning 31-25. Goaltender Miika Wiikman made 21 saves for the victory in the first of four tournament games for the Rangers.

Tied 3-3 after 40 minutes, the Rangers broke the game-open in the third period behind goals from David Kveton, Korpikoski and Dubinsky, the only member of the Rangers team with NHL experience.

Kveton got the ball rolling at 1:56 of the third, when he beat Tampa Bay goaltender Riku Helenius off assists from fellow 2006 draft picks Tomas Zaborsky and Bobby Sanguinetti. Korpikoski then scored the eventual game-winner off an assist from Dubinsky at 5:24 of the third, and Dubinsky picked up his second goal and third point of the night off a fluke play that saw a Tampa Bay player accidentally shoot the puck into his own net while trying to clear the zone during a Rangers power play.

Tampa Bay's Rob Klinkhammer would later score the game's final goal on an assist from Smolenak with 1:36 remaining, but it wasn't enough to catch the Blueshirts, who outshot Tampa Bay 12-6 in the third period.

The go-ahead goal by Kveton came after the Rangers had scored twice in the second period but were forced to settle for a 3-3 tie, thanks to a late second-period score by Tampa Bay. Korpikoski then found the net just after a Rangers power play had expired, and Dubinsky notched his second of the game when a Tampa Bay player's clearing attempt ended up in the Lightning goal.

Also tied after one period, the Rangers had gone in front 2-1 on a second-period power-play goal by Korpikoski, who scored on a wrist shot to cap off an odd-man rush up the ice. Michael Sauer picked up the lone assist on Korpikoski's goal, which came at 4:00 of the second period.

Tampa Bay battled back to tie the score at the 7:04 mark, when Radek Smolenak found the net for his second unassisted goal of the game, but the Rangers regained the lead on another power play at 9:50, as Marc Staal, the team's 2005 first-round draft pick, scored an unassisted goal to make it 3-2.

The Lightning's Colton Yellow Horn knotted the score at 3-3 on a power play with 4:24 left in the second, connecting off assists from Vladimir Mihalik and Mike Lundin.

Dubinsky got the Blueshirts off to an early lead with an unassisted goal at 2:44 of the opening period, but the Bolts soon countered with a power-play goal from Radek Smolenak at the 6:36 mark.

The hard-hitting game featured plenty of contact from the start, and the Rangers took gave Tampa Bay four first-period power plays, but did not get their first power-play chance until the second period.

In other games played on Friday, Minnesota's prospects beat Dallas 5-1, St. Louis downed Columbus 6-4 behind a five-point performance by 2006 first-round draft pick Patrik Berglund, and Atlanta beat Detroit 3-2. The Blueshirts rank first in the tournament's Western Conference division, which includes Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Detroit.

The Rangers prospects will go back to work on Saturday afternoon, facing Atlanta at 3:30 p.m. A year ago at this tournament, the Rangers rebounded from a 4-0 Thrashers lead to tie the game, but eventually lost to Atlanta 5-4.
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