Fed up with their lack of offense, a questionable goal and a three-game losing streak, the Rangers took out their frustrations against Montreal last night in a 6-2 win at the Garden.
They erased a 2-0 deficit in the second period with three goals, then went toe-to-toe with the Canadiens a few times when things turned ugly.
Ryan Callahan (four points) and Brandon Dubinsky each had two goals and Marian Gaborik and Chris Drury scored in the third as the Rangers scored more goals than they had in the previous five games combined.
Among the 50 minutes in penalties in the second - the Rangers had 28 - were rousing fights that included Sean Avery and Wade Redden, as well as physical responses from Aaron Voros, Enver Lisin and Brian Boyle.
"It shows a lot of character on [Redden's] part, a willingness to compete, a willingness to stick up for his teammates," Dubinsky said. "Same thing with A.V. and Sean. You even saw Lis get in there, who's not an overly aggressive person. We knew we were on a bit of a slide. If desperation is what guys felt, maybe that's the right word. We understood the importance of it."
Even Henrik Lundqvist, who got angry after Brian Gionta's late first-period swipe on a rebound that was deemed a goal, put his glove in the face of Michael Cammalleri during a scrum in his crease after the Rangers tied the score at 2.
"He's been scoring on me too much," Lundqvist, who made 18 saves, said with a grin. "I had to get back at him."
After Dubinsky, who replaced Erik Christensen on the No. 1 line, cashed in a cross-crease feed from Vinny Prospal for his second goal of the second period at 11:04 for a 3-2 lead, things got rough.
Voros retaliated after a hit from Andrei Markov and was challenged by Travis Moen and Josh Gorges. Avery exchanged blows with Gorges, bringing the crowd to its feet. Less than a minute later, Benoit Pouliot flattened Christensen with an elbow to the head and Redden challenged the bigger Pouliot.
"You never know what triggers it,'' coach John Tortorella said. "It's not mapped out. You never know how the emotion, when it's gonna show, but the important thing is how you respond. Sometimes this year, I don't think we responded correctly in those types of situations. Tonight, I think we did."
With the Rangers down 2-0 after 20 minutes, Callahan's first goal - a tap-in from the crease after Gaborik scooped up the puck on the left boards and fired a shot off Jaroslav Halak's pads - halved the lead 57 seconds into the second period. It was Gaborik's first point in four games and the Rangers' first goal at home in 147:02.
"That's what energy is," Avery said. "We were banging right off the bat. That's how you open up your offense."
During a four-on-three power play for the Canadiens, Callahan sped down on a breakaway and Halak got his left pad on his shot, but Dubinsky, following the play, banged in the rebound at 8:28 for his second shorthanded goal of the season. The Rangers (23-19-7) outshot the Canadiens 15-2 in the period.
"We were trying to finish our checks all over the place and that led to a couple big fights by Sean and Wade, and I think we fed off that in the second period," Drury said. "We felt good after the first, felt like there was a lot of energy in the building. We had a feeling we could come back."