Found January 31, 2012 on Blue Seat Blogs:
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None of us were able to watch the game tonight, so BSB poster JordanO volunteered to pen the recap for tonight. Thanks JordanO, much appreciated. Enjoy folks.

After a week layoff due to the all-star break, the Rangers drew a rivalry game right out of the gate, facing the Devils for the second time this season. There would be no All – Star break hangover in this one, as the two teams battled into overtime in a game that changed hands multiple times. In the end the Rangers could not hold onto a late third period lead, coming away with just one point as the Devils prevailed in the shootout.

The Rangers got on the board first, tallying with just 32 seconds left in the opening period. Brodeur made a kick save on a wrist shot from Marion Gaborik, and Anton Stralman was there to put the rebound into the net. Stralman’s second goal of the year gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

In the second period, the Devils answered, finding the net to tie the game on a good play by their captain. Zach Parise collected his own rebound and fired a shot from a tough angle, beating Martin Biron over his shoulder on the blocker side.

The Rangers had a number of good opportunities in the 2nd period. The best chance came when a long pass from Stralman found Brad Richards for a breakaway, but Marty Brodeur made the toe save with his left skate.

In the final stanza, the action really heated up. The Rangers started the period on the power play, but it nearly cost them. After the Rangers couldn’t keep the puck in at the point, Kovalchuck got a breakaway attempt, but Biron slid over to make the pad save.

The Rangers then took a 2-1 lead on a play that left Brodeur flopping around his own crease. Stu Bickel took a slap shot from the point that hit Brian Boyle, and Boyle collected the pick and skated around the diving Brodeur, and lifted the puck into the open side of the net.

Late in the game Artem Anisimov took an ill-timed slashing penalty to put the Rangers on the penalty kill with just over five minutes left in the third. The Devils capitalized, as some good passing found Kovalchuck, who had pestered the Rangers all night. His goal tied the game at 2.

However, it took the Rangers all of 36 seconds to answer. Marion Gaborik did an excellent job of keeping control of the puck with the defender all over him, and slid a perfect backhanded pass across the slot. Michael Del Zotto released the one-timer for the Rangers to retake the lead.

It looked the Blueshirts would hold on to that lead, but the Devils scored with an extra attacker on in the final minute. NJ dumped the puck in, and a fortunate bounce off the end boards found David Clarkson right in front of the net, and he scored to send it to overtime.

The five extra minutes were played at a frantic pace, with each team having a golden opportunity to win the game. The Rangers dodged a bullet early when Ryan McDonagh made a spectacular play. Danius Zubrus nearly put one in the net, put McDonagh got his stick on the puck and forced it out.

On the other end, Derek Stepan made a beautiful play, but just couldn’t get the puck in the net. He stickhandled around the defense and tried to sneak the puck in from the side of the net. The puck slid directly across the goal line, but somehow did not go in.

With that, the teams went to the shootout. Kovalchuck beat Biron through a wide open 5-hole, and Brodeur stood his ground to give New Jersey the 4-3 victory, with the Rangers earning a point out of the ordeal.

Notes / Analysis:

  • Tortorella made the decision to go with Biron in the first game out of the break with Henrik having in Ottawa for the All-Star festivities. Biron has been solid this season, and was strong at times today, but Lundqvist could have been the difference maker in this one. He had started the previous 32 games against NJ, instead he’ll face the Sabres tomorrow.
  • The Rangers powerplay continues to noticeably struggle. John Mitchell was out their on the advantage in the second period to try something different.
  • Two assists each for Gaborik and Hagelin, each time setting up defensemen. Stepan wasn’t very visible on that line until his great play in OT that should have iced a Ranger win.
  • Similar story for McDonagh, a few defensive lapses for him early, but he saved the game with a great play in OT.
  • Stralman played a good game at both ends. Had the first goal, plus a nice long pass to Richards to set up a breakaway.
  • The Rangers defensemen continue to join the rush and become a big part of the attack. Not only did two defensemen score, but the Rangers had a good chance in the second period with Girardi and McDonagh skating up the ice on a 2-on-1.
  • The Rangers had Brodeur out of sorts a number of times throughout the game, especially on the Boyle goal, but he came up strong in the shootout to deny Richards and Gaborik.
  • Secondary scoring really counted in this game for NY, with Stralman (2nd of the year), Boyle (4th of the year), and Del Zotto (6th of the year) finding the net.

Don’t forget to follow JordanO on Twitter here.

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