After the New York Rangers played one of their worst games of the season against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night, they looked to redeem themselves on home ice against a team that had a five-game winning streak—the red-hot Nashville Predators.
Redeem themselves they did.
Although they weren’t at their best, the Rangers were able to come away with a 3-0 win over the Preds, gain two points in the standings and give Henrik Lundqvist his fourth shutout of the season, 39th of his career. Having Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko back in the lineup after both sustained minor injuries was also a major boost for the Blueshirts.
The Rangers had a slow start, allowing the Predators to dominate the first four minutes of play and set up camp in their offensive zone. But the Blueshirts’ defense was sharp, blocking shots and rarely allowing the puck near Lundqvist, who had 27 saves on the night.
“I think we played a really good game,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have to do a lot, a couple saves here or there.”
Able to find their footing and play their game, the Rangers gained the momentum they needed when six minutes into the period Dan Girardi gave the team a 1-0 lead. Carl Hagelin slid a pass to Marian Gaborik at the point, who found Girardi at the top of the right circle. Girardi ripped a shot that deflected off Predators’ defenseman Jack Hillen and took an awkward bounce past goaltender Anders Lindback.
“I think it was a great match up for us head-to-head. It made for a great game for us to get back to how we play,” said Girardi after the game. “I thought we did a really good job of handling their pressure and then building on that moving forward.”
Aside from his game-winning goal, the all-star defenseman finished the night with +3 rating and played a major role in warding off the Predators’ offensive assaults.
Halfway through the second period, John Mitchell scored his fourth goal of the season when he was able to shake off Preds’ Gabriel Bourque and sent a wrister between the pipes. His goal was unassisted.
Late in the period, the Rangers gained another scoring opportunity when Martin Erat was sent to the penalty box for goaltender interference. But 17 seconds into the power play, Gaborik shuffled off to the box to serve a four-minute penalty for high-sticking. Neither team was able to convert on the power play.
Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan tallied the final goal with less than a minute to play in the game. Callahan, who was on a breakaway, was about to glide the puck into the empty net when he was hooked from behind by Erat. Although the puck slid to the outside of the net, the officials ruled it a goal.
Coach John Tortorella, who was a little displeased with Rangers’ owner James Dolan when he joked about the team getting closer to the Stanley Cup, was happy with his team’s ability to bounce back from a devastating loss. But his emotions never cloud his judgment as he reiterated his belief that in order to be successful the team needs to focus on one game at a time.
The Rangers look to dominate the Pittsburgh Penguins when the play them Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.