Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 12/11/11

Since winning games in bunches like they have for the past month and a half became common, one thing the New York Rangers have done very well is bouncing back after losses. Earlier in the week, the Blueshirts lost two close games to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, but rebounded this weekend with back-to-back complete defeats of the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers. That is always a trait of the league’s best teams, and the Rangers have established themselves as just that with the way they’ve been playing as of late.

The Rangers came out and dominated this game from the opening faceoff, which was a bit surprising considering they were involved in a spirited match-up in Buffalo just 24 hours earlier. Brad Richards opened the scoring at 11:40 of the first period with a powerplay goal to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, Artem Anisimov deposited an Erik Christensen rebound to put the Blueshirts up by two with his sixth goal of the season. Note that Artie’s reaction to the goal consisted of a simply first-pump; no rifle this time around. 

With just two minutes remaining in the first period, Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson answered back with his first NHL goal to cut into the Rangers’ lead, 2-1. Henrik Lundqvist was screened on the play and was never given ample time to pick-up Gudbranson’s slapper from the point, but even still, Henrik dropped down to his knees way too early.

New York opened the game up in the second period, and it all began with Derek Stepan’s tremendous effort at the very end of a penalty-kill. Stepan intercepted the puck in the defensive zone, made a beautiful move through the defense and to the net, and lifted a shot up high over Jose Theodore for the 3-1 lead. This play was extremely reminiscent of the one we saw from Ryan Callahan in Buffalo the night before. 

Midway through the second, Steve Eminger got on the board when his slap shot from the point deflected off a Florida defenseman and past Theodore. That would put the Rangers up by three goals, but they weren’t quite done just yet. Marian Gaborik and Derek Stepan both scored rebound goals less than a minute apart from each other before the end of the stanza, so the Blueshirts would eventually head into the intermission with a dominant 6-1 lead over the Panthers.

In the third period, as you would expect, it was all about defense. Marian Gaborik was thrown in the box for a double minor after he lost control of his stick off the faceoff. The Rangers managed to kill off the four-minute penalty without much of a problem at all, and at that point it was set-in-stone that this game was far out of reach for Florida, who had their point streak cut short tonight.

Henrik Lundqvist had a very easy night in goal, only having to make 20 stops through 60 minutes. It’s difficult to stay focused when you aren’t seeing much action, but despite a dormant second period for Hank, he was absolutely on fire during the penalty-kill that opened the third period. Meanwhile, his opponent in Jose Theodore was eventually chased through two periods and replaced by Scott Clemmenson. 

For obvious reasons, Derek Stepan is my choice for player of the game tonight. About a month or so ago, I wrote an article talking about how Stepan was in the midst of his breakout season while playing on a line with Marian Gaborik and Artem Anisimov. He further proved that tonight with two goals and an assist, and also some crucial plays on the defensive side of the puck as well. Derek now has 7 goals and 13 assists on the season, and also had his dad in the house tonight for this game.

And how about Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik? It seems like they get on the scoresheet every night and you know why it seems that way? Because they do. Richards has 12 points in his last nine games, while Gabby has 8 points in his last seven outings. For once, the Rangers’ top scorers are actually performing like top scorers. It’s been a while since the Blueshirts have had two of those in one season.

Michael Del Zotto and Steve Eminger had another great game on defense and offense in this one. They were noticeably improved on Saturday against Buffalo, and they took that a step further with another strong effort tonight. Del Zotto finished the night with an assist and four shots and goal, while Eminger had one goal on one shot.

I also liked Anton Stralmans’ game tonight. He’s improved a lot since his debut and it’s shown in his game. The Rangers, all together, have adjusted well defensively with Michael Sauer out of the lineup.

So with this weekend’s sweep of back-to-back games, the Rangers have now tied the Pittsburgh Penguins in points, but technically surpass them for fourth place since they have played fewer games. At the same time, New York only trails the conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers by one single point with a game in-hand. By the end of Tuesday night, this team could be leading the East. 

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

DeMar DeRozan: It will be ‘pretty tough’ for me to leave Raptors

Super Bowl referee says Cotchery play could have been a catch

The NBA is one step closer to putting ads on jerseys

Archie Manning defends Cam Newton over press conference

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture


Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NBA to weigh adding advertisements to jerseys

ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Little League International sued by parents of Jackie Robinson West

Kobe Bryant shoots down notion he wants All-Star MVP record

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker