Although Chad Johnson, who has handled things very well since his first callup on Dec. 4, what the Rangers (22-18-7) haven’t handled as well is their ability to score, with just four in the four games prior to last night and have been blanked for two consecutive games.

            With Ales Kotalik benched, Chris Drury will join the first power play unit on the point, and Michal Rozsival also will receive some time. The captain had been down low on the second unit, but Tortorella said the spot was “not just about shooting, you still have to make decisions.”

             Tortorella said he sensed “no tightness” about the drought here, where the Blues were an NHL-worst 8-14-3 but have won two in a row and are 3-2-1 under new coach David Payne.

            “I thought we had good meetings, thought we had a good practice. Nothing’s guaranteed. This is a chance to show some maturity in growing as a team---to answer. When you have a tough one, it’s how you answer the next game. But I don’t have a crystal ball and say were going to be dead on.”

               As for Kotalik and Donald Brashear, Torts said:

 "I don’t think Koats has grabbed hold of a position. I don’t think either one has." 

advertisement | advertise on newsday


               More coming up during the game, and remember to follow me in real-time, for free, as usual, at.....




                  The Blues erased a spirited Rangers start, beating them to  pucks, outmuscling them on the boards and forcing three penalties. Six seconds after Wade Redden went to the box, David Perron scored his 13th of the season on a power-play wrister from the left circle after Keith Tkachuk grabbed a rebound and fed him a pass at 14:07. Meanwhile, with five saves, Chris Mason extended the Rangers scoreless streak to 164:23. The last time the Rangers were whitewashed in three consecutive games was more than a decade ago, from Oct. 20th through the 24th, 1999.