Pittsburgh- The New York Rangers simply ran into a goalie suddenly turned hot. With a 2-1 shootout loss tonight to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers managed to gain 3 out of a possible 4 points in a home and home series versus the number one team in the Eastern Conference. They might not have had that same offensive fire-power they showed in Wednesday’s 6-1 route of the Penguins, but the team as a whole displayed something much more important tonight.
As a unit, the Rangers proved tonight that they (like last year) still have the ability to out-work opposing teams, and be a resilient bunch. The Penguins came out of the gates looking like a team trying to relinquish an embarrassing defeat in their previous game. The Blue-Shirts did a wonderful job of weathering the storm in the first half of the opening frame, and managed to skate to a 0-0 tie after 20 minutes of play.
The second period was another stalemate, but the Rangers seemed to be asserting themselves much more by taking over the territoriality play. At the start of the 3rd, with the teams still tied a 0-0, Jussi Jokinen scored his first goal as a Penguin just 30 seconds in. This is when the “new” characteristic of RESILIENCY came into play for this New York Rangers team.
Very unlike any other game we’ve seen this year, the Penguins goal seemed to actually ignite the Rangers in the 3rd period. The Rangers absolutely dominated the Pens out-shooting them 14-4 in the final frame. Following the tail end of a power-play with just 4:49 remaining, Stepan won the face-off directly to Rick Nash who fired a wrist shot through the five-hole of Fluery tying the game at 1-1.
The Rangers would eventually lose in a shootout (final score 2-1), but showed a gritty determination tonight which we have seen very little of this season. They were able to play the highest scoring team in the NHL to essentially a 1-1 tie on the road, but were stifled by a determined goalie. I know as well as you that Gaborik wasn’t the “problem” on this team; if anything he was the solution. It is because of him we have been able to add the essential pieces to re-tool this team to what made them so successful last season. It seems as though the team has certainly found their legs, and have begun playing like the contender that we all thought they would be. The Rangers need to follow up these two strong efforts with another gutsy performance for two more points on the line tomorrow night in Carolina.
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