After two competitive and slightly dull periods, the New York Rangers brought the crowd at Madison Square Garden to its feet with a four-goal third period, and a 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Every time Carolina’s captain Eric Staal touched the puck, the Garden Faithful harassed him with boos. Although no fan to the Rangers due to his role in brother Marc Staal’s concussion that has left him sidelined this season, Eric Staal actually helped the Blueshirts jumpstart their third-period scoring assault.
When Staal’s stick found Dan Girardi’s face, the Hurricanes’ man advantage was cut short and Staal shuffled off to the penalty box. Capitalizing on the Canes’ mistake and a power play opportunity, Girardi notched in the game-winner off a crisp, no-look feed from Brad Richards. Nine seconds later Brandon Dubinsky scored his first goal of the season. Elated, Dubinsky opened his arms, looked skyward and screamed out in relief.
“It’s certainly a weight off your shoulders,” Dubinsky said. “Those are the ones you need. You can’t ask for a better gift than a wide-open net with the puck on your stick, especially when you’re in dire need of a goal.”
Dubinsky tallied another point on Captain Ryan Callahan’s goal at 13:47. Richards netted the final goal when Cam Ward got caught behind the net after chasing the puck. Thinking he had his teammates around him, Ward left the goal unattended, but Richards beat the Canes’ to the puck and scored on a wrap-around.
A minute later the game ended and the Rangers’ skated to the center ice to salute their fans.
“It was good that other people chipped in,” said Rangers’ coach John Tortorella. “We try to stay with our game. Everybody did that. We had some contributions from other people.”
Fan favorite Sean Avery has had his ups and downs this season, only rejoining the Rangers last week after a stint in the minors. But tonight he got the crowd riled up early in the game when he chipped in the puck just under the crossbar and gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The play started with Jeff Woywitka who cleared the puck out of the Rangers’ zone. Canes’ Brian Allen couldn’t settle the puck and Avery drove toward the net and put it past Ward.
“I’m proud to play here. That’s why you play hard,” Avery said. “Getting two points and winning six games in a row is even bigger.”
Henrik Lundqvist played a solid game between the pipes, only allowing Alexei Ponikarovsky to score for Carolina with a wrist shot from the left circle in the second period. Lundqvist had 34 saves on the night.
“I told him right after the game when we were celebrating, ‘Great job keeping us there,’ ” Dubinsky said of Lundqvist. “He kept us in it tonight and gave us an opportunity to break out a little bit and put some pucks in the net.”
With the win, the Rangers have won their last six games.
“Obviously, there is confidence that comes with a winning streak,” Callahan said. “We just have to keep the pucks crashing the net and good things will happen.”
The Rangers look to extend the streak when they encounter their New York rivals on Long Island, Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.