NEWARK----One acronym for tonight was MIA: No Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise, Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury, Vinny Prospal, Ryan Callahan, Colin White. A lot of talent on the mend in this next stage of the long-running Battle of the Hudson.
For Brandon Dubinsky, however, no letters are is necessary. But this number is: 10. With his second goal of the game, poking in Todd White’s rebound off a shorthanded rush in the third period last night, the 24-year-old center from Alaska tied Tampa’s Steven Stamkos and Chicago’s Patrick Sharp for the NHL lead in goals.
“Whitey makes a great play and a great pickup and maybe I don’t get to the loose puck if I don’t move my legs,” said Dubinsky. “What works for me is working hard and keeping my feet moving. I don’t have the Stamkos talent, the Kovalchuk talent, when we (our line) works hard, it brings our talents out.”
With his fifth goal in three games, Dubinsky gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead, and two points in the second game of a road back-to-back that raised their record to 7-5-1. Dubinsky, who scored 20 goals in 69 games last season, banged home his first of the game at 7:35 of the first for a 1-0 lead. If he is not the Rangers’ most improved player, then the honor goes to Brian Boyle, whose strong skating has lifted him into a more offensive role.
After the Devils had pinned the Rangers in their zone for long stretches of the second period but failed to beat Henrik Lundqvist, who had great position all night, the Rangers struck.
The 6-foot-7 Boyle was battling for position in front of Johan Hedberg, who started in place of Martin Brodeur (elbow), and after a faceoff in the left circle, Artem Anisimov (2 assists) got the puck back to Dan Girardi, who took it along the blue line to center ice and fired. “I put my stick in the spot, and he shot it right at my stick. I didn’t move it,” said Boyle. The puck changed direction, and the lead was 2-0 with 35.5 seconds left. For Boyle, who had four goals each of the three previous years, it was his fifth in 13 games.
“Dubi is having a career year, what can you say,” said Boyle. “It’s a career year for me too. Hopefully it’s not over.”
The steadiest Ranger, from season to season, remains Lundqvist, who gave up two goals he wanted back in Philadelphia, and forged his second shutout in four games, having blanked the Leafs in Toronto last Saturday. He stopped 33 shots, earned his 26th career shutout and is 5-2-0 in the last seven.
“Coming from Thursday night, (a 4-1 loss to the Flyers), it was important for us,” said Lundqvist. “I felt like I had to play a lot better tonight, stick to my game plan. I was more solid, more in control. Against the Devils if you can get the lead it’s a big help, when you get the lead, they have to open up a little more.”
For all the chatter about the importance of good starts, the Rangers have been outshot 19-6 in the first periods against the Flyers and Devils. In this case, it was the finish that counted.