Anisimov gives Rangers shootout victory

Rangers center Artem Anisimov (42) scores the game-winning

Rangers center Artem Anisimov (42) scores the game-winning goal in the shootout against Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. (Jan. 24, 2011) (Credit: MCT)

WASHINGTON - The beat-up Rangers are winning by playing defense-first hockey and getting some timely goals.

The formula worked to perfection last night against the Capitals, as the Rangers rallied with a fluke score to tie the score late in the third and then had three shootout goals in four rounds, including the winner by Artem Anisimov, for a 2-1 victory.

Wth the Rangers trailing 1-0, Marian Gaborik, who hadn't scored since his four-goal outburst against the Maple Leafs on Jan. 19, had a bouncing rebound of a shot by Brian Boyle go off his arm past rookie goalie Braden Holtby with 6:41 left in regulation and a review confirmed the call on the ice.

It was his 16th goal of the season, with assists going to Boyle and Sean Avery.

"I felt it hit me and the guys were celebrating," Gaborik said. "I guess it was one of the lucky ones. This was a typical team game, we outshot them big time until the 10-minute mark of the third; it was a grind and everybody contributed."

The puck hit Gaborik and defenseman Karl Alzner's stick or hand and popped past Holtby.

"I wasn't sure until the replay," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Sean and Gabby thought it was a goal."

The shootout featured two fabulous moves by Wojtek Wolski and Mats Zuccarello, who got his fourth shootout goal in four attempts, and a critical save by Martin Biron on Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin had six shots in the game, but was kept off the scoresheet, mostly by the defense pairing of Marc Staal and rookie Michael Sauer, stepping in for the injured Dan Girardi.

Staal played 29:09, sometimes shifts of more than 90 seconds.

Sauer played 24:22 against Ovechkin and Niclas Backstrom, "And I don't think he was afraid at all," Tortorella said. "I thought we defended really well."

In the third game of this road trip, in which the Rangers (29-19-3) were 2-1, they failed to score on six power plays, but did not sag defensively and held the Capitals to just 11 shots through 40 minutes, Washington's lowest total through two periods all season. The Capitals finished with 23 shots, including six in overtime.

After a scoreless first, the Caps came out flying in the second period. Matt Hendricks, driving to the net to the right of Biron, got his stick on Marcus Johansson's cross-ice pass and directed the puck into the stick-side corner for the lead at 1:27 of the second. Hendricks breezed past Chad Kolarik for his third goal in six games.

Otherwise, Biron (8-4) was efficient in lifting the Rangers to 17-9-1 on the road.

Holtby, meanwhile, had surrendered few rebounds, and when that happened, he held his ground.

As might be expected, Ovechkin was the best player on the ice in a physical first period. He had two of the Capitals' five shots, missed the net on two others and had one attempt blocked.

Biron's best save came when he slid to his left, stacked his pads, and turned away Jay Beagle's close-in try.

The Rangers face the Panthers, losers of four straight, Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in their final game before the All-Star break. It concludes a league-high 14 back-to-back sets.

The Rangers are 10-3 in the second game of those series, and have four more back-to-backs this season.

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