The Wrap: Miller, Nash score in shootout: NYR 2, Canes 1

Rick Nash scores a shoot out goal past

Rick Nash scores a shoot out goal past Dan Ellis of the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden. (March 18, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

There's a story on Marc Staal (who's doing better) elsewhere online here and in the paper, but here's the post-gamer, with some extra quotes.

Ding-dong, the streak is dead.

Barely.

The Rangers, who had lost three in a row in regulation, still have only scored three goals in the last four games, but they grabbed two points from the Hurricanes tonight in a 2-1 shootout victory at the Garden.

“We didn’t score five, but I think just getting the two points and winning gives us the confidence we need right now to move us forward to maybe put up three or four,” said Michael Del Zotto, who joined rushes and led rushes with a renewed sense of confidence himself.

In the end, rookie J.T. Miller scored from a sharp angle, beating Carolina’s Dan Ellis for the game winner in the third round to snip the thread.

“The fact that he (Coach John Tortorella) has a little faith in me there means a lot,” said Miller, who had played with gusto for 14:41 but didn’t get a shot on Ellis.

Rick Nash, with a deke and a backhanded reach-around, netted the Rangers first goal in the shootout and Henrik Lundqvist, who had 29 saves through overtime, stopped Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin’s backhand hit the post, setting the stage for Miller.

So, with injured defenseman Marc Staal, who has missed seven games after suffering an eye injury on March 5, watching from a suite, the Blueshirts (14-12-2, 30 points) won for the 10th time at home and head to Newark for a matchup with the Devils Tuesday.

“It means nothing if we don’t go into Jersey and play the same way or go into Jersey and get a win,” said Ryan Callahan. “You’re only as good as your last game.”

After a listless first period, the Rangers controlled the rest of the game, but couldn’t beat Ellis more than once. Ryan McDonagh hit the crossbar early in overtime and the Rangers had five of the first six shots in those five minutes of the 36 overall.

In the third period, the Rangers hit the post twice. First Callahan, with Ellis sliding on his back and keeping the puck under him. At 10:01, Michael Del Zotto’s shot from the point.

Starting in the second, trailing 1-0, the Rangers played more of a north-south game, and it eventually paid off.  Derek Stepan, with a spinaround from about 12 feet, broke the scoreless drought of 129:55 at 11:06. Callahan had crossed the crease, bumping Ellis, who was out of position. The Rangers had outshot the Hurricanes, who had lost two in a row, 12-4 in the period.   

Del Zotto, who hadn’t scored since Jan. 29---a span of 19 games---led the Rangers in shots with five, and played his best game offensively in weeks.

But before Stepan’s goal, nothing seemed to help end the dry spell. Before the game, Tortorella showed a video of their best offensive plays of the season. Neither did moving three top players to the same line: Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, although they combined for 10 shots.

“We created some chances,” said Gaborik. “We haven’t been playing together for a while…we’re going to be even better tomorrow.” The Rangers will get a chance to string wins together against Johan Hedberg. Injured Martin Brodeur practiced today, but the most he will do is dress as the backup.

Eric Staal scored his 14th of the season on a one-timer from the right circle with 51 seconds left in the first to provide a 1-0 lead. It was the third straight game that the opponent scored first, and the Garden crowd booed the Blueshirts, who were outshot 14-6, off the ice at the end of the period.

So it came down to Nash, who had missed wide left on a breakaway in the second, and Miller, who hadn’t scored in 17 games. Said Lundqvist: “I’m happy he (Miller) got a chance to go out there. He’s been looking good in practice. It’s a big relief. It’s been a little while since we’ve had this feeling.”

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