Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 1/10/12

While this was an extremely frustrating game to endure as a fan of the New York Rangers, the Blueshirts again found a way to come out with two points for their fifth straight victory and tenth in their last eleven games. This game shouldn't have entered overtime or a shootout for that matter, as the Blueshirts had multiple chances to win it and gain a substantial lead within regulation time. However, they ran into a hot goaltender that appeared to be unstoppable and needed the extra time (and rounds) to get the job done. They eventually did and that's all that counts as far as the standings are concerned.

The Rangers dominated the first two periods of the game, outshooting the Coyotes, 21-10, through the first 40 minutes. Despite the domination, though, the Rangers weren't playing smart hockey. Their passes were careless, they were holding onto the puck for too long, there were some bad turnovers defensively - New York was just playing very sloppy in the first two periods, but were lucky enough to get away with it.

Their failed powerplay attempt late in the middle frame was the peak of the Rangers' poor play, as not only did they not register a shot with the man advantage, but they couldn't even hold the zone for more than ten seconds. If they would have actually capitalized there, this game never would have needed extra time to decide the outcome. But they didn't, so we played on.

New York would end up getting on the board first regardless, as Ruslan Fedotenko was finally able to break the scoreless tie just 2:27 into the third period. His line, which includes himself, Brian Boyle and Carl Hagelin, played very well tonight, and that all stemmed from their hard work in both the offensive and defensive zones. We saw that on this specific goal, as a resilient forecheck created a scramble in front of the net, which was when Fedotenko sent a wrist shot from the slot through a Brian Boyle screen and past Mike Smith for a 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, nine minutes later the Coyotes answered when Radim Vrbata's laser of a one-timer beat Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game at one. As I said, there were several times throughout this game where the Rangers were very careless with the puck, and that was the case on this play leading up to the goal. They were unable to clear the zone, the puck ended up between Staal's skates and Marc Pouliot picked it up and fed Vrbata for the goal.

Tied at 1, the two teams headed to overtime where the action was uptempo, mostly in favor of the Rangers. Marian Gaborik would be given a penalty shot 3:10 into the extra period after being hooked by Adrian Aucoin while on a breakaway. Gaborik made a series of quick dekes that had Smith beat, but Smith's outstretched stick was able to get a piece of the shot to stop Gabby and keep the game going. Not to take anything away from Smith, but I feel as if the save was more luck than anything. He was deked out of his skates and was lucky to get a stick on it. Some people are making this out to be the save of the year. Let's not get ridiculous.

Anyway, we needed a skills competition to find a winner in this game, and it took six rounds for that to actually happen. Marian Gaborik and Derek Stepan both scored for the Rangers, and Vrbata was the only player to beat Henrik Lundqvist for the Coyotes. Stepan's shootout-winner was actually the first shootout goal of his career.

Mike Smith put on a show in net for the Coyotes, but that shouldn't overshadow the performance of Lundqvist for the Rangers in this game. Actually, I thought Lundqvist played well enough to deserve the shutout but unfortunately a turnover by his defensemen cost him that. Nonetheless, he'll take the win either way, especially since it is his seventh straight. With a lot of midterm awards being given out across the Internet, you are beginning to see Lundqvist's name pop up quite often in the Vezina conversation. Seven straight wins for a goalie? That's pretty damn impressive if you ask me, especially when looking at who some of them were against.

I think head coach John Tortorella put it best after the game when he said he thought the team "beat the puck up a bit tonight." Basically what he's saying there is that the team tried to force plays of low success rates, and that's quite simply what kept them from winning in regulation.

Brad Richards struggled with his passing tonight, Brandon Dubinsky had trouble controlling the puck, Dan Girardi actually was a little weak with the puck tonight, so there's a decent list of players who tried making the difficult plays out there, instead of the simple ones. And then how ironic is it that the tilt is decided on a simple wrist shot by Stepan in the shootout?

I mentioned the Fedotenko line before, but they deserve to be brought up again. I really liked the work ethic of that trio tonight, and Tortorella even acknowledged them as the club's best line. Hagelin's speed compliments Boyle and Fedotenko's dirty work nicely, so he's fit in there very well. It's really great to see contributions from the third line, Fedotenko specifically.

With 40 games now in the books, the Rangers are 27-9-4 on the season with 58 points, which is three more than the second place Boston Bruins. That's one game down with three more to go this week, so there's still much work to be done. Next up are the red hot Ottawa Senators at MSG on Thursday.

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