Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 10/24/11

I find it amazing that the New York Rangers managed to go 3-1-0 on their road trip through western Canada considering they were dominated for large portions of every game. I said going into the trip that satisfactory would mean grabbing wins in at least two of the four games, but the Rangers did so in three, improving their record on the season to 3-2-2. Six out of a possible eight points is nothing to complain about, and whether they were all deserved or not, they got them in the toughest part of the schedule this season. 

Tonight's game in Winnipeg would determine the team's mood as they traveled back to New York for the long-awaited home opener on Thursday, and you have to imagine that the club is feeling pretty good about themselves after tonight's effort although they only won the game by the skin of their teeth. Things finally started to click on the powerplay with both Ranger goals coming with the man advantage, Marty Biron was stellar between the pipes and defensively the team wasn't all that bad when you look at the game as a whole. 

The scoring began in the second period when Ruslan Fedotenko perfectly redirected a Dan Girardi slap-pass to the back of the net on the powerplay. The Rangers were a complete disaster on the powerplay prior to that moment, so head coach John Tortorella decided to switch the units up all together and put out a line of Brian Boyle centering Ryan Callahan and Fedotenko. The decision paid off because it only took seconds until Feds gave the Blueshirts a 1-0 lead. 

The Jets would end up tying the game before the end of the second, though, when Nik Antropov's wicked wrister from the circle beat Marty Biron short-side. This was a classic example of the Rangers being guilty of not clearing the zone. Brandon Prust had the puck tied up in his skates, had teammates helping him dig it loose, but they were unable to gain possession. Winnipeg quickly took it the other way and scored to tie things at 1 heading into the third. 

New York's play to open the third, to put it bluntly, was alarming. They were completely dominated by the Jets and were unable to get a stoppage in play. Winnipeg controlled play for a good two to three solid minutes, and thanks to Biron in goal, the Rangers were able to survive the surge. Fedotenko actually ended up drawing a penalty-which killed the Jets' momentum, and it was on that powerplay where Ryan Callahan scored the eventual game-winner. His intent was to pass the puck over to Fedotenko in the slot, but it ended up deflecting off the skate of a Winnipeg defender and into the net, and that would be all she wrote. 

Marty Biron was rewarded the Broadway Hat tonight, and boy did he earn that honor with his performance in net. He was forced to make 27 saves on the evening and like they have with Henrik Lundqvist, his teammates relied heavily on him at certain points in the game. Biron needed to get a start somewhere here as Hank simply cannot be starting every game of a seven-part road trip, and it's nice to see him perform well and earn a win in that one start. 

I called out Ryan Callahan twice today, and coincidentally he turned up his game tonight. Not only did he net the game-winner, but he was also fantastic on the forecheck and blocked two very big shots as well. The Jets had some hope left in them late in the third period there, but their final legitimate shot attempt (a slapshot from the point) was nullified by a sliding Callahan to pretty much put an end to this one. That takes guts and it's also why he wears the "C". Great to see Captain Cally return to form tonight. 

I was also impressed with the game of Ruslan Fedotenko on offense, picking up a goal and an assist in the outing. His play earned him a spot with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik on the first line by the end of the game and he deserved it. There's no telling whether that was permanent or not, but at the very least it was Torts' way of saying "nice job out there."

Speaking of Gaborik, he was limited to only a handful of shifts in the third period despite having another strong game. He showed no signs of being injured, so I don't think that was an issue, and it wouldn't make sense for Tortorella to bench him for his play. Not sure what the reasoning behind that was, but it's worth noting. 

Defensively, another hell of a game by Dan Girardi. Danny picked up assists on both Ranger goals tonight and was also a stalwart in his own zone. You really cannot say enough about what Girardi has done for this team while Marc Staal and Michael Sauer have been out of the lineup. He's been tremendous. 

I think the biggest factor to look at in tonight's win, though, is the fact that the Rangers kept the penalties to a minimum while also converting on their powerplay opportunities. That was a first all season long for them and look, it resulted in a win. Not a coincidence my friends. 

The road trip from hell is finally over and although the Rangers have yet to play their best hockey, they still find themselves with a record above .500. There are still a ton of things that need work and it will take time to get where they want to be, but all things considered, they didn't make out too bad in their first seven games. 

Now it's time to go home. Finally.

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