Matt Hunwick was an unlikely recipient of the Broadway Hat on Sunday, but the defenseman, who played his strongest game of the season, prevented an early goal. He jumped in to sweep the puck off the goal line behind Henrik Lundqvist, changing the dynamic of the first period.
"That's the biggest save of the game there," said Lundqvist, who made 33 of his own and presented Hunwick the postgame MVP chapeau.
"It didn't let them get feeling good about their game and get the game going in their direction," Lundqvist said. "That's so important, especially in a game where it's hard to create the big chances to try to get the first goal . . . I think it helped me and helped the whole team."
Jason Demers' slap shot was tipped by Matt Nieto and got through Lundqvist, and while it was sliding on the edge of the line, Hunwick reached with his stick and cleared it away at 6:18.
Hunwick, who was signed as a free agent, and was pressed into service with Dan Boyle injured, played 17:09 on the third pairing with John Moore.
Minor injuries to d-men
Two other defensemen went down with minor injuries and are listed as day-to-day.
Early in the third period, Dan Girardi blocked two shots, the first with his hand and the second with his left leg. Coach Alain Vigneault said the impact of the second caused a gash that needed stitches, and Girardi did not return.
In the final minute, Kevin Klein was struck in the chin with a shot near the Rangers' net and went down bleeding. Vigneault said Klein also needed stitches.
Dominating the dots
The Rangers won 41 of 62 faceoffs, led by Derick Brassard (13-3), Dominic Moore (15-3) and Chris Mueller (8-1) in his Rangers debut. "[The Sharks] are a good faceoff team," Vigneault said. "Our guys beared down and we got a lot of help on the 50/50 pucks that permitted us to start with the puck."