Friday, March 2, 2012

Rangers Defeat Hurriances, 3-2

The Rangers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes tonight by a final score of 3-2 thanks in large part to a strong defensive effort that was led by Marty Biron in goal, along with the penalty killing unit that was highlighted in particular by the efforts of Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust. Prust scored the game-winner after converting an excellent feed from Brian Boyle on a 2-on-1, while the Rangers also got goals from Artem Anisimov and Marian Gaborik in the game.

The best line in the game was easily the Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik line, which scored two of the Rangers' three goals tonight. Gaborik notched his 30th of the season, marking the seventh time in his 11-year career that he has scored 30 or more goals in a season. Gaby also made a phenomenal pass to Artem Anisimov that tied the game at one after a great play by Derek Stepan, who blocked a shot in the Rangers' defensive zone and managed to use his body along the boards to get Gaborik the puck in the neutral zone. The line was working hard all night long and was noticeable on every shift.

The Rangers were solid defensively all night long. They did a great job on limiting the Hurricanes' scoring chances and keeping Eric Staal in check (more on him in a bit) and killed off four of five penalties. Brian Boyle earned the Broadway Hat, and John Tortorella specifically praised the efforts of Boyle, Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko for their work on the PK late in the third period, when the Rangers successfully killed off a double-minor high-sticking penalty on John Mitchell.

One of the bigger storylines to come from the game was the benching of Brandon Dubinsky, who finished the game with just 5:25 TOI. Dubinsky took what John Tortorella called a "stupid" and "dumb" penalty when he grabbed the stick out of the hands of Hurricanes forward Jiri Tlusty and threw it into the corner across the ice during a scrum in front of the net after the play was over at 19:10 of the first period. The Hurricanes wound up converting on the power play and took a 1-0 lead and Dubi never saw the ice again after that. John Tortorella, for the most part, was mixing and matching his lines the rest of the night after he benched Dubinsky, with most of his ice time being divided up between Ruslan Fedotenko, Marian Gaborik and John Mitchell. Torts was obviously furious over Dubi's bonehead penalty, but I must admit I was surprised that he never even got a single shift after the first period, especially with Ryan Callahan out of the lineup and the Rangers already lacking one of their best penalty killers going into the game. I'm sure Dubinsky and Tortorella are both extremely frustrated with the way Dubinsky's season has gone, and tonight it all just came to a head.

I thought Marty Biron was solid in net. The Hurricanes' first goal on the power play I thought was a terrible goal that Biron should've had, but he was fantastic outside of that. He made 21 saves overall, and a lot of them came in key spurts where the game could've easily turned in the Hurricanes' favor if Biron doesn't stop those shots. It was good to see Marty play well considering how much he's struggled the past month or so. The Rangers will certainly need him to continue to play well down the stretch when they'll manage Henrik Lundqvist's workload to keep him fresh going into the playoffs.

The biggest storyline heading into the game tonight was Marc Staal playing against his brother, Eric, for the first time since Marc suffered a concussion on a borderline dirty hit from his brother last year. Both Staals had good games - Eric had two assists and hit the post twice despite registering only one shot on goal, and Marc played 21:48 and finished with a plus-1 rating - and the only real notable interaction between the two came when Marc cross-checked Eric in the Rangers' defensive zone in the second period. It wasn't malicious or anything, but I'm sure Marc felt good to get in a good hit on his brother considering Eric cost him the first four months of the season.

The Rangers did suffer some injuries in the game. Dan Girardi hurt his hand blocking a shot in the third period and was visibly in pain on the bench. He came back in, though, and I'm sure he'll be in the lineup tomorrow no matter what. Michael Del Zotto is a different story, however. He took a hard hit that was a penalty in the third period and re-injured his hip that he initially hurt on Saturday against Buffalo. He didn't return to the game, and if I had to guess, I'd say he won't be in the lineup tomorrow. If Del Zotto can't play tomorrow, that means the Rangers will likely dress either Steve Eminger, a healthy scratch the last four games, or Jeff Woywitka, who hasn't played since Dec. 30. If I had to guess who they'd go with, I'd say Eminger since he's far less rusty at this point than Woywitka. Also, John Scott, who made his Rangers debut playing on the fourth line, seemed to hurt his hand early in the game, but was fine after that and didn't seem to be bothered by it after that. Mike Rupp also was shaken up after a collision with Eric Staal, who fell on Rupp's knee and bent it backwards when the two went to the ice, but considering the fact that John Tortorella made no mention of Rupp's injury after the game, I'm assuming it wasn't serious.

You can read the boxscore to the game here.

The Rangers will be back at it tomorrow night in Tampa Bay, when they faceoff against the Lightning at 7 p.m.

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