The Rangers prospects opened play in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament on Saturday night with a 4-0 loss to the host Detroit Red Wings in Traverse City, Mich.
|Antoine Lafleur played goal for the Rangers in the third period on Saturday night as coach Ken Gernander wanted to use both his goaltenders in the game. |
Cory Emmerton, Detroit's 2006 second-round draft pick, scored two goals and set up another for the Wings. In the process, Detroit gained a measure of revenge over the Blueshirts, who had beaten the Wings a year ago en route to the 2007 tournament title.
The Wings, who hold their annual training camp in Traverse City, were certainly the home team on Saturday ,as a standing-room-only crowd was strongly behind Detroit.
The first two Detroit goals were unassisted power-play tallies, as Emmerton scored in the first period, and 2008 sixth-rounder Stephen Johnston tallied in the second. Both goals came with Rangers prospect David Skokan
serving a penalty.
Emmerton found the net at the 4:25 mark of the opening period, when he deflected a shot through a screen in front of Rangers goaltender Matt Zaba
. Johnston's goal was scored at 14:29 of the second to stretch the lead to 2-0.
Detroit made it a three-goal lead with only 1:19 remaining in the middle period, when 2007 draftee Zack Torquato converted a nice feed from Emmerton for the game's first even-strength goal.
Emmerton capped off the scoring with another even-strength goal at 7:55 of the third period, as he beat 2007 Rangers second-round pick Antoine Lafleur, who had come on in relief of Zaba at the start of the third.
Shots were even at 29-29, as both teams used each of their two goalies. Zaba had 19 stops through 40 minutes and Lafleur stopped six of seven shots. The Wings had trailed in shots for the first half of the game, but came on strong down the final nine minutes of the second period by outshooting the Blueshirts 7-2. The Rangers then turned the tables by outshooting Detroit 10-7 over the third period.
Each team had a power-play opportunity in the game's final five minutes, which forced Lafleur and Detroit's Tom McCollum to come up big in net. Despite the lopsided score, the Rangers made Detroit earn its victory. Overall scoring chances were essentially even, but a few more bounces went the home team's way.
Zaba's performance -- 19 saves in two periods -- was particularly noteworthy, but, Rangers prospects coach Ken Gernander wanted Lafleur to get some playing time, so he used him in the final 20 minutes. Lafleur was the winning netminder in last year's championship game at Traverse City.
Detroit had been forced to change goaltenders midway through the second period, as starter Daniel Larsson left the game with an apparent leg injury. McCollum, the Wings' first-round pick last June, entered in relief of Larsson, and the two shared the shutout.
The Rangers did not get their first power play of the game until just under eight minutes remained in the first period, but that man-advantage was cut short when Tommy Pyatt
drew a penalty of his own.
Zaba became the difference for the Rangers down the stretch in the first period, making several saves while standing up to a 4-on-3 Wings power play, which was followed by a brief two-man advantage.
Zaba, who spent last season in the ECHL and recently extended his contract with the Rangers, finished the first period with nine saves, matching the total for Larsson, the Wings' 2006 third-round pick. Larsson was at his best near the end of the period, when he made big stops on Bobby Sanguinetti
and Evgeny Grachev
during a 4-on-4 situation. That eventually turned into a 4-on-3 for the Wings, and the Rangers managed to kill off the late power play.
The third period featured a fight in which Rangers prospect Justin Soryal, an undrafted player who signed with the Blueshirts last spring, dominated Bryce Swan of the Wings. Swan, originally drafted by Anaheim but never signed by the Ducks. is playing in the tournament on a tryout basis.
The final period also saw a long delay due to a problem with the glass next to one of the exit gates along the boards.
In other tournament action on Saturday, Atlanta shut out Tampa Bay 1-0, Dallas beat St.. Louis 4-3, and Columbus defeated Minnesota 4-3 in an overtime shootout.
The Rangers go right back to action on Sunday afternoon, facing Atlanta's prospects at 2:30 p.m. ET.