Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 3/1/12
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The New York Rangers needed players to step up tonight with captain Ryan Callahan out of the lineup with a bruised foot. That they did, as the Blueshirts received contributions form all different sources in their 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Now on a three-game winning streak, the Rangers are rolling with only 20 games remaining on the regular season schedule.

Nothing much was doing in the first period as both teams were on lockdown defensively. However, I will say that Marty Biron looked much more confident than he has in recent starts in the opening period, stopping all six shots thrown his was by the Hurricanes. I’ll be honest, I was nervous about Biron going into the game since he was extremely shaky in his last two starts against the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders, but he clearly was a new man between the pipes right out of the gate tonight.

The Hurricanes would get the first goal of the game past him, though, just 58 seconds into the second period while on the powerplay. Jeff Skinner sent a wrister through traffic and between the legs of Biron to give Carolina a 1-0 lead. It was the penalty that led to the Hurricanes’ powerplay that was the biggest letdown, because Brandon Dubinsky unnecessarily threw a loose stick into the corner of the ice during a scrum at the end of the first period. He was thrown in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct for what was a very poor decision on his part.

Head coach John Tortorella looked very displeased on the bench following the penalty, and he confirmed that by benching Dubinsky for the remainder of the game. Not for nothing, but Dubinsky was nearly shipped out of here just a few days ago. Therefore it would be awfully wise of him to use his head and avoid pulling goon-like stunts that can cost the team. I’m happy he was benched – it was well deserved. 

New York finally got on the board at 8:21 of the second when Marty Biron made two great saves down one end, and then the Rangers transitioned quickly with Gaborik eventually feeding Artem Anisimov in the slot on the rush. Anisimov fired a quick shot far side past Cam Ward to tie things up at one for the Rangers.

The same line struck again 14:53 into the period, but this time it was Marian Gaborik batting a rebound out of the air and over the goal line to give the Blueshirts a 2-1 lead. The original shot came on a strong move by Stepan to the net, and his rebound went off Ward and popped up into the air. Gabby, showing great hand-eye coordination, knocked it right out of the air for his 30th of the season.

The Rangers got another huge goal to open the third stanza from unlikely sources. Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust came down 2-on-1 and Boyle made a great backhanded feed to Prust for the tap-in tally. That insurance goal would give the Rangers a 3-1 advantage, which turned out to be crucial since the Hurricanes would score late to cut the score to 3-2.

Give credit to the squad for a stellar penalty-kill in the third period as well. John Mitchell accidentally cut a Carolina player in the face with a high-stick, which is an automatic double minor. The Rangers killed off the entire penalty in superb fashion, without their best penalty-killer in Ryan Callahan, I might add.

I spoke about Marty Biron earlier, and to reiterate, he was the goalie we were used to seeing earlier in the year when he was racking up the wins. It’s all about confidence with Marty, and he definitely had it tonight. Just look at the multiple times in which he skated far out of the net to play a loose puck in the game – he doesn’t do that if he doesn’t have his mojo going.

Biron received much help from his defense, too, led by Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal. Dan Girardi, believe it or not, had an off night in this game, and Michael Del Zotto left in the second period with a hip injury. That’s two of the top four either not totally there or not there at all. However, McDonagh and Staal stepped up and picked up the slack with lights out play. I’d say this was one of Staalsy’s better performances this season since his return from a concussion.

Offensively, Marian Gaborik was again the star with a goal and an assist tonight. That line, with Gabby, Stepan and Anisimov, has been heating up lately, which reminds me of how they played in the month of November in which they were really rolling. Gabby is leading the pack right now, and he also has now scored 30 goals in seven seasons throughout his career.

Also, I must mention Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust and John Mitchell. These three had some serious minutes in this game with Dubinsky benched and the special teams called upon often, and they responded very well. It’s the two-way efforts that make these guys shine, and for Prust, it even translated to a goal.

Lastly, newcomer John Scott only played 4:58 tonight, but I did notice a few things. Firstly, he’s extremely slow. Besides that, though, he was effective when he was out there. His huge stature fits right into Tortorella’s system as his size certainly has an impact on the forecheck. It was scary seeing he and Rupp out there at the same time, but they were effective when they were.

The Rangers have now won three straight games to improve to 41-15-6 with 88 points on the year. They will have a chance to reach 90 when they get right back to work tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum. 

* Ryan Callahan reportedly was seen on cruches tonight with a boot over his bruised foot. While the x-rays came back negative, this seems to be a tad more serious than what was originally thought. I would assume he will not be in the lineup tomorrow against the Bolts, either. 

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