Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rangers Defeat Senators 3-2, Win Fifth In a Row

The line of Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik dominated the entire night and Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves, as the Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators by a final score of 3-2 tonight to win their fifth game in a row.

The Rangers' G.A.S. line (Gaborik, Anisimov, Stepan - get it? I stole it from Mike Rupp on Twitter) was precisely that tonight. They were absolutely flying and storming the net whenever they were on the ice and each player had a hand in the Rangers' three goals tonight. Marian Gaborik had two goals, Derek Stepan had a goal and two assists, and Artem Anisimov had two assists. Altogether the trio combined for seven points tonight, and could've easily had more if not for a few nice saves by Craig Anderson.

Read more on the game below, including who got the Broadway Hat for player of the game.

The Broadway Hat could've easily gone to anyone on the G.A.S. line, but it was awarded to Artem Anisimov. Anisimov was phenomenal all night long and played what was maybe his best game as a pro so far. Tonight, I thought his play went beyond the two assists and plus-3 rating he was credited with in the boxscore. Anisimov made several nice passes to set up goals, drove hard to the net, was in hard on the forecheck and was a big part of the Rangers' penalty killing unit, which killed off the two penalties they were faced with tonight. He was noticeable on all ends of the ice.

Derek Stepan was fantastic, and the kid continues to grow up right before all of our eyes. His effort on the forecheck created the goal he would go onto score just a few seconds later, and he didn't stop there. He was working the boards all night long and was a factor every single time he was on the ice. He recorded a point on all three Rangers goals tonight, and he certainly deserved it with the effort he displayed all night long. Hopefully, John Tortorella will leave Stepan at center in the long-term future because it's clearly where he belongs and looks most comfortable as a playmaker.

And let's not forget about the Slovak Sniper, Marian Gaborik. Gaborik has been on fire lately and came through with his second consecutive two-goal game. The Rangers were pinned deep in their own zone in the third period and looked to be losing momentum when Gaborik scored on a perfect wrist shot over Craig Anderson's right shoulder after converting on a 2-on-1 breakout with Derek Stepan. Gaborik is playing - well, like Marian Gaborik. You can throw out Gaborik's statistics from last year because that was a completely different player than the Marian Gaborik that showed up for his first season on Broadway and the first 15 games of this season. I still say he was more hurt over the course of last season than the Rangers revealed, but that's a whole other story. The bottom line is that this is the type of player Marian Gaborik can be, and has to be, in order for the Rangers hope to make it far.

You can view the boxscore from tonight's game here.

Some additional notes on the Rangers' line of Anisimov-Stepan-Gaborik: Artem Anisimov now has 1 G, 6 A for 7 PTS in his last five games, including two assists in three consecutive games...Derek Stepan has 3 G, 6 A for 9 PTS in his last six games, along with a plus-8 rating...Marian Gaborik has 5 G, 5 A for 10 PTS in his last six games, including 4 G, 1 A for 5 points in his last two games.

Dan Girardi, who John Tortorella referred to as the most underrated player in hockey earlier in the week, played a game-high 28:14. No big deal or anything. Just continues to go about his business game in and game out without getting much recognition. Fact of the matter is Girardi is proving again and again how important he really is to this team. A lot of people thought this team's defense would fall apart with Marc Staal out - and rightfully so, considering how important Marc Staal has become - but let's not forget about what Dan Girardi has done for the Rangers even before Staal emerged as one of the top shutdown defensemen in the entire league.

Henrik Lundqvist was his usual fantastic self in goal tonight. He made several big saves in the third period when the Senators were bringing it and also kept the Rangers in the game early after they were outshot 11-4 in the first period, and outshot 31-19 overall in the game. Not much more to say about the King that hasn't already been said. He played great after not being in goal since Saturday's win against the Canadiens.

Also of note was that John Tortorella went primarily with three lines throughout the entire night and juggled his second and third lines in the third period. Brandon Prust was moved up to the second line to skate on the right side of Brandon Dubinsky and Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan was moved to a line with Ruslan Fedotenko and Brian Boyle. I'm not really sure what prompted the line changes, but I doubt those lines will remain intact come the Rangers' next game.

The fourth line was out on the ice for the Senators' second goal that came in the third period after some sloppy play in the Rangers' own zone. Jeff Woywitka couldn't corral a bouncing puck and Andre Deveaux failed to pick up Nick Foligno in the defensive zone, who skated to the front of the net and scored. The fourth line never saw the ice after that. Sean Avery, Erik Christensen and Andre Deveaux all got just over five minutes of ice time each. Avery and Deveaux each had a fighting major and EC wasn't really used since most of his time comes on the power play, and the Rangers only had one power play opportunity tonight.

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