TORONTO----Thanks to Henrik Lundqvist and some fearless shotblocking, the Rangers were clinging to a 1-0 lead deep into the second period. The Leafs were controlling play for the entire period and Lundqvist handled all 18 shots.
But Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf, near at the Rangers blueline, attempted a soft cross-ice pass toward Phil Kessel. " I saw him setting up Kessel," said Ryan Callahan."I knew they were going to try to for the one-timer on the point, so I kind of laid in the weeds a little bit and try to read Phaneuf a bit. Fortunately, I read it right."
A pursuing Kessel hooked Callahan from behind, a penalty shot was called, and the 19,063 fans at Air Canada Centre had the feeling that this defining moment would prove to be a treat or a nasty trick on Halloween.
Callahan, who had scored in three consecutive games, faked J.S. Giguere, went to his right, and curled the puck into the net at 18:35, providing a critical cushion for Lundqvist and his teammates, who had lost two straight games at Madison Square Garden. Callahan, who had missed a penalty shot last year, said he "had an idea of what I wanted to do...same move as last year. Don't tell anybody." Callahan now has points in each of the last six (4-5-9) games.
In the third period, Lundqvist, who finished with 36 saves for his first shutout of the year and the 25th of his career, passing Mike Richter on the franchise list for fourth place, and the Rangers continued to defend and stifle shots.
"Credit their goalie, he made four or five big saves, and the desperation they played with," said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. "And we got pushed out of the way battling for rebounds. They blocked 35 shots, you've got to be aware of that all the time." Kessel, for example, didn;t get a shot on goal.
Having dropped two in a row at home to Atlanta and Carolina, the 2-0 win raised the Rangers road record to 4-1 and overall mark to 5-4-1.The Leafs, meanwhile, have lost five of six since Oct. 15
"Must be the building," said Michael Del Zotto, referring to the tight defensive effort here nine days ago when Martin Biron and the Rangers beat the Leafs 2-1. "Especially after the last game (against the Hurricanes on Friday night)....they had so many chances, and I don't know how many shots we blocked but it takes committment, courage, hard work."
The Rangers scored first on a rush by Brian Boyle, whose skating has improved immensely after off-season workouts. Brandon Prust, who dropped the gloves with Mike Komisarek at 1:48, came out of the box after another penalty and nudged the puck to Boyle. The big center stormed in down the right side and launched a high backhander shortside past Giguere at 13:12. It was Boyle’s fourth goal of the season and Prust’s first point.
"We talked about paying the price," said Lundqvist, who hadn't blanked the Leafs in 15 previous games. "It's so important to bounce back with a team effort." In the third, he turned away chances by Tyler Bozak, Tomas Kaberle. Kris Versteeg and Beauchemin in the first seven minutes. Mikhail Grabovski hit the post with a sliding shot but Lundqvist prevailed to pass Mike Richter, Gump Worsley and Chuck Rayner for fourth place in shutouts among Rangers netminders.
"It's special,” said Lundqvist, in his fifth season. “He's (Richter) been around for a long time, such a big part of this organization. Now I've got to keep going with a couple more."