Rangers get first home win of season
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After the Rangers earned their first Madison Square Garden victory of the season, coach John Tortorella wasn't making any guarantees Monday night, including whether Sean Avery will be in the lineup on Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks.
"I like the way a lot of people played," Tortorella said after the Rangers' first three-period effort of the season in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. "I'm not force-feeding anything. If I look at the tape and I think guys have done their job, then stay with your team."
Unlike Saturday, when his team coughed up a three-goal lead over the Senators in the third period and lost in a shootout, the Rangers took a 5-2 edge into the final 20 minutes and held on to raise their record to 1-1-1 at home and 4-3-3 overall.
"We didn't ease up at all,'' said Ryan Callahan, who contributed two goals and an assist and wore the winning Broadway fedora in the locker room. "We kept going at them. Emotions on the bench were high. It was a good character win."
Three other Rangers -- Erik Christensen, Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi, with two assists each -- had multi-point nights. Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov each scored his first goal of the season and backup goalie Martin Biron won his second straight start.
The Rangers took a 2-0 first-period lead on a one-timer by Ryan McDonagh -- his third goal of the season -- at 4:46 and a power-play goal by Stepan at 14:53.
The Sharks, who had won five straight road games, scored when Douglas Murray's shot rang off both posts and Joe Pavelski scooped up the puck and tucked it behind Biron at 17:50 for his eighth goal of the season. And when Logan Couture knotted the score at 11:03 of the second after more than a minute of sustained pressure in the Rangers' zone, the Garden crowd went silent, anticipating another collapse.
Instead, in the third game of this six-game homestand, the Rangers regrouped. "We told ourselves we have to keep our foot on the gas pedal; we can't sit back,'' Girardi said.
Callahan sandwiched his two goals around a beautiful backhanded roofer over Antti Niemi by Anisimov, who drove to the net after receiving a head-man pass from Christensen.
Earlier, Christensen found Callahan to the right of Niemi, and the captain slid in the puck at the 14-minute mark as the man-advantage ended to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. The goal was ruled as even-strength.
Callahan then made it 5-2 at 19:12 when, falling away from the play to the left of the cage, he managed a backhanded swipe of the puck into a half-empty net.
"I felt some consistency in every aspect of the game," said Biron, who stopped 24 of 26 shots. "We crashed the net and were rewarded. At some point, you forget about the score. We've played some good periods of hockey, but we weren't able to get a win. To be able to consistently play through zone after zone was the key, and we did that for 60 minutes."
It also was the first time the Rangers, with 31, outshot an opponent this season.
Another positive sign for a team struggling offensively: nine goals in the last two games. "We know we have guys who can score," said Callahan, who has four goals in the last four games. "It was just a matter of time."