CALGARY - Rangers coach John Tortorella expected that the Rangers would need to play a rugged, grinding game against the Flames. What he didn't expect was that he would have to play most of it without two centers.
On his first shift in the Rangers' 3-1 loss to Calgary at the Pengrowth Saddledome Saturday night, captain Chris Drury was lost for the game on an unpenalized shoulder to the head by Curtis Glencross, apparently unseen by the officials. The league likely will review the play and determine if a suspension is in order.
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In the second period, while killing a power play that began at 3:23, Brandon Dubinsky blocked Jay Bouwmeester's slap shot from the left point with his right arm, stayed out on the ice cradling it, then departed for the evening, having skated for only 9:40.
The Rangers, relatively healthy through 17 games, already were without No. 1 goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was scheduled to start but was replaced by Steve Valiquette in order to rest what is believed to be a nagging groin injury.
A gutsy performance, however, couldn't produce more than one goal, and the loss ended a 1-2 road trip that left the Rangers at 10-7-1.
Miikka Kiprusoff (32 saves) was just a bit better than Valiquette, who played well in emergency duty. and the power play (3-for-7 against Edmonton Thursday) just missed. David Moss' interference gave the Rangers their third power play at 1:24 of the third, and a good opportunity to tie the score at 2 was denied when Marian Gaborik's backhander was blocked by Kiprusoff.
The Flames (10-4-1, three straight wins) took a 2-1 lead at 16:47 of the second period with 46 seconds left on a power play. Former Ranger Nigel Dawes, with his second assist of the game, found Jarome Iginla in front from the left side and the Flames' captain beat Valiquette, who had little chance, high to the glove side.
The third goal came from Rene Bourque, on Dawes' third assist, at 16:35 of the third on a shot that bounced in off the inside of Valiquette's pad.
The Rangers had come close to breaking the 1-1 tie just past the midway mark of the second. At 11:20, David Moss was sent off for interference, and Ales Kotalik's blast ricocheted off Kiprusoff's stick and then the crossbar. Three other shots also were turned away by Kiprusoff.
Later in the period, Kotalik's high-stick double-minor along the boards, which drew blood from Craig Conroy, was seen by a linesman, but play wasn't halted until Rene Bourque was nailed for crosschecking at 15:32, giving the Flames the man advantage.
In the first, Dan Girardi's fourth goal of the season, an innocent but accurate wrister from the right point, appeared to hit in front and sail by Kiprusoff to tie the score at 1 at 17:16. Daymond Langkow's deflection through Valiquette's pads at 3:56 had given the Flames the lead on their third shot.
Girardi also made a goal-saving stop on a 31-second five-on-three in the second when Wade Redden was called for intereference, following Enver Lisin into the box. Girardi saved a goal when he slid to cover the open net and blocked Iginla's wide-open wrister to the left of the cage.
Drury did not return after being blindsided at the 49-second mark by Glencross' shoulder to the head with Drury circling, not near the puck, in the Rangers' defensive zone. Drury, who has played in every game, knelt on the ice until trainer Jim Ramsay helped the clearly woozy captain down the runway into the dressing room. The Rangers double-shifted centers for the rest of the game.
Lundqvist said he is "pretty confident" that he can play against the Thrashers at the Garden on Thursday, the next game. The status of Drury and Dubinsky was unclear at game's end.
Sean Avery and Dion Phaneuf, meeting on the ice for the first time since last December, when Avery was with the Stars and was suspended for making crude remarks about a former girlfriend who was dating Phaneuf, bumped and played hard but did nothing worth a penalty.