Rangers Turn Corner Against Flames, Look Ahead to Penguins

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Sunday night, the Rangers were finally able to raise their sticks at center ice. After four straight losses at MSG (and going down 2-0 in the first 15:00 minutes) the Blueshirts battled back to beat the Flames in a seven round shootout. This is significant not just because it was a win, but because it was a comeback win that the Rangers haven’t been able to earn in the past. Sunday night marks just the second time this season the Rangers have earned two points after surrendering the first goal of the game.

But earn two points they did. Even if it did take 65 minutes and 7 shootout attempts. And the Ranger who perhaps deserved a goal the most channeled his inner Peter Forsberg for the shootout winner:

If the move looks familiar, you probably were watching when Peter Forsberg scored this goal for Sweden in the 1994 Winter Olympics:

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Pouliot was one of the hardest working Rangers in the win against Calgary, notching an assist and no penalties in just under 12 minutes of ice time. But his strong back-checking (something that has been noticeably lacking) not only halted Calgary’s offense on several occasions, it also created a chance for the Rangers that Carl Hagelin wrapped around and in to tie the score at 2-2 in the second period.

Derek Stepan, who opened the scoring for the Rangers late in the first, also had a good night (he would later collect an assist on the goal by Kreider that sent the game to overtime). Stepan had been struggling to find the back of the net recently, and his goal seemed to spark the Rangers, who didn’t push very hard for the first 15 minutes of regulation.

Dylan McIlrath also help spark the team with a spirited throwdown against Brian McGrattan, marking his first NHL bout (and McGrattan’s 95th). The rookie blueliner stood his ground well as the two exchanged blows for some time before fatigue allowed the linesmen to intervene. McIlrath not only looked good in the fight, but he looked good while he was on the ice, defending the crease both before and after the whistle, and passing well. He’s looking more and more like he might remain in the NHL for the rest of the season, and perhaps give the Rangers the depth they need to feel comfortable trading Michael Del Zotto, who had several more defensive lapses, most notably when the puck was sent right between his feet on a pass that he never noticed. DZ wound up being a +2 in over 21 minutes of ice-time.

All told, the Rangers eked out a win in the shootout, and Henrik Lundqvist’s reaction sums up the Rangers victory nicely (skip to the 7:00 mark or click here if you don’t want to see the whole thing):

LOOK AHEAD

With the win against Calgary behind them, the Rangers will look to beat the Penguins on Wednesday night. The Penguins are atop both the Eastern Conference and the Metropolitan Division, but are severely short-handed. Missing from the line-up for Pittsburgh are Thomas Vokoun, Brooks Orpik, Beau Bennett, Andrew Ebbett, Tanner Glass, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi, and presumably Evgeni Malkin, although he is still a possibility to play. Also out of the lineup will by James Neal, who will serve the fifth and final game of his suspension on Wednesday night, and Deryk Engelland has an in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety on Wednesday, meaning he will miss the Rangers game as well. For those of you playing the home game, that’s 10 players from the starting lineup (not counting Vokoun), including 3 of the Penguins Top 4 defensemen. Combine that with the fact that the Rangers have finally snapped their losing streak, and Wednesday’s game against the Pens suddenly looks a whole lot more winnable.

The game will air on NBC Sports, as their Rivalry Night game.

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