The Rangers prospects erupted for three first-period goals and never looked back on Tuesday afternooon in Traverse City, Mich., as the Blueshirts cruised past Tampa Bay 5-3 in the final round-robin game of the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.
|Rangers prospect Artem Anisimov scored his first two goals of the tournament in Tuesday's 5-3 victory over the Lightning. |
and Joe Barnes
each scored two goals, and goaltender Matt Zaba
was outstanding in net with 27 saves. Dale Weise had the other Rangers tally. Overall, the Rangers outshot the Lightning 37-30.
A wild third period saw four goals scored -- including the last two by the Bolts -- but the Rangers stood up to Tampa's last-ditch efforts to even the score.
By beating the Lightning, the Rangers ensured a spot in Wednesday's fifth-place game. The Blueshirts will face St. Louis, which also won its first game on Tuesday, beating Columbus by the same 5-3 score.
Although both teams had gone 0-2 in their first two games at Traverse City, Tuesday's game hardly lacked intensity. Within the first minute, defenseman Tysen Dowzak
had fought with Brady Leavold, and Barnes got the ball rolling for the Rangers just 99 seconds into the opening period, when he broke in on a 2-on-1 with Mike Taylor
and converted Taylor's pass for a 1-0 lead.
Barnes' goal was the Rangers' first of the tournament, snapping a scoreless span of 121:39 for the defending Traverse City champions.
Anisimov nearly made it 2-0 just one minute after Barnes scored, but his wrist shot hit the post behind Detroit goalie Torrie Jung. The Rangers also made noise in their own zone, stopping a Tampa power play and then getting a shorthanded chance from Tommy Pyatt
, who was denied by Jung, a 2007 seventh-round draft pick.
At 5:37 of the first, Anisimov got what he'd been looking for earlier in the period, scoring off assists from David Stich
and Nick Pageau
to make it 2-0. The goal came during a 4-on-4 situation after Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto
had taken a delay-of-game penalty, and a Tampa player had been assessed a double-minor.
An apparent Tampa Bay goal was overruled later in that 4-on-4, as officials determined it had been deflected past Zaba with a high stick.
With under five minutes left in the first, the Rangers stretched their lead to 3-0, thanks to a pair of 2008 draftees. Winger Dale Weise
scored off a pretty assist from Del Zotto, the team's first-round draft pick last June.
The Rangers outshot the Bolts 16-10 in the opening period and were 1-for-2 on the power play while killing off three Tampa man-advantages in the first.
Zaba was the difference in the second period, keeping the Rangers well in front with several good saves, including a big stop on Luciano Aquino. Midway through the period no goals had been scored despite two Rangers power play and one for the Lightning.
Intensity picked up again later in the second, when Anisimov was hit from behind by Mitch Fadden, who drove the Russian center into the boards. Anisimov wasn't hurt, but Brodie Dupont
jumped to his defense and received an instigator penalty and fighting major.
Tampa Bay did not break through Zaba until only two seconds remained in the middle period. Fadden, who had been the focus of so much attention minutes earlier, poked a loose puck through traffic and found the net at even strength. Prior to Fadden's goal, Zaba had stopped 17 straight shots.
Anisimov picked up his second goal during a 5-on-3 Rangers advantage at 3:18 of the third period, as he converted the rebound of defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti
's shot from the point.
Less than two minutes later, it was a 5-1 Rangers lead, courtesy of an even-strength goal from Barnes, who scored on a wraparound at 4:51 of the third.
Tampa Bay refused to quit, getting even-strength goals from Kyle De Coste at 6:32 and Chris Lawrence at 16:19. That was as close as the Lightning would come, however, despite having multiple power-play opportunities in the final period, including an extended 5-on-3. Zaba was the difference, standing up to those power plays with help from a penalty-killing unit led by Pyatt.
The Rangers were even forced to kill a late penalty during which Tampa Bay pulled Jung for an extra attacker. But another two-man advantage in the Rangers' end of the ice didn't faze Zaba, who stood up to the pressure.