TAMPA, Fla. — Dominic Moore does not know Ryan Fitzpatrick, even though they overlapped at Harvard for two academic years in the early 2000s. But the hockey player will be rooting for the football player from afar in Sunday’s win-and-in game against the Bills.
“He has had a great year, and hopefully they can keep the season going,” the on-a-roll Rangers center said of the on-a-roll Jets quarterback. “He has done an amazing job.”
Moore has not exactly registered on the Linsanity / FitzMagic scale when it comes to Harvard alumni impacting New York sports, but he has more reason to relate to Fitzpatrick than just their shared alma mater.
Fitzpatrick, 33, is on his sixth NFL team; Moore, 35, is on his ninth NHL team. (They briefly were both on the rosters of Buffalo teams in 2009, but Moore played his final game as a Sabre before Fitzpatrick played his first as a Bill.)
So they appreciate the good times when they come along. This is one such time for Moore, who was one of the few Rangers performing relatively well during a 4-10-2 slump and played a big role in a 5-2 victory over the Lightning on Wednesday night.
“He was a monster for us,” Marc Staal said after Moore set up the Rangers’ first goal by winning a faceoff — one of 10 he won in 14 chances — then scored the winner in the third period with a series of nifty moves to fake out goalie Ben Bishop.
Moore’s fourth line also was on the ice in the final minutes of a one-goal game before the Rangers iced it with two empty-netters. The fourth line was the only one Alain Vigneault did not change after Monday night’s loss to the Predators.
“They were competing real hard and getting pucks deep and finishing their checks when they had the opportunity,” the coach said of Moore, Tanner Glass and Viktor Stalberg. “They got us the go-ahead goal, and when guys are playing that hard, you have to put them out there.”
Said Moore of the late ice time, “I think that’s obviously a responsibility to take pride in and to try to do the best job I can.”
Relying on game-winners from the fourth line in general and Moore in particular is not a recipe for success moving forward, but good teams get that kind of contribution at key junctures, and Wednesday night was one such juncture.
“Scoring that goal was amazing,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said of Moore. “It’s great to see. He works hard, has a great attitude . . . This is what we need from everyone.”
Said Staal, “It’s huge for us . . . You need that throughout the season, for your depth guys to have big games.”
Notes & quotes: The Rangers announced that they have agreed to contract terms with second-round draft pick Ryan Gropp on an entry-level contract. Gropp, 19, who has 18 goals and 14 assists for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, will remain in Seattle for now. The Rangers took the 6-2, 190-pounder with the 41st overall pick in the draft, moving up to take him as part of the Carl Hagelin trade with the Ducks.