For one night, the third-period chants of “Mar-ty, Mar-ty” replaced the familiar “Hen-rik, Hen-rik” at Madison Square Garden.
Martin Biron, the Rangers backup goaltender who was signed on July 1 to spell Henrik Lundqvist, has been on a tear early this season, and won his fifth game last night.
He made 31 saves, including 15 in the third period to preserve a 2-1 lead over the Calgary Flames and give the Blueshirts their second consecutive win.
“We all know Hank is going to play a lot and when he gets on a roll, it’s tough to stop him,” said Biron, “so I’m taking my opportunity right now. We need hank, we need everybody in this locker room and he’s one of our best players.”
Rangers coach John Tortorella had given the nod to Biron, saying that while the struggling Lundqvist remained the team’s No. 1 goalie, Biron had earned another start following Saturday’s 5-2 win in Minnesota.
“When you travel and stay up till two or three the night before because you can’t get out with the bad weather, and you leave in the morning today, a lot of teams are victimized coming back home, and you can’t play physical,” said Biron, “I think that was the total opposite for us. We responded really well.”
At 7:10 of the first period, rookie defenseman Mike Sauer became a target after crushing Stefan Meyer and Tom Kostopoulos ran Sauer, triggering two penalties. “I let up a little,” said Sauer. “I didn’t hit him 100 miles an hour. He didn’t appreciate it.” When they came out of the box, Kostopoulos and Sauer went at it again, and then Meyer went after Sauer at 17:06. “First time I’ve had two fights in a period, but it’s a physical play that’s what I want to bring to my game.”
Those big hits “seemed to create a little friction,” said Dan Girardi, “It sparked everything.”
After a scoreless first, Brian Boyle was credited with the opening goal on a 2 on 1 with Ruslan Fedotenko when his pass deflected off defenseman Brendan Mikkelson and slid past Mikka Kiprusoff at 2:08. It had been the first shot for the Rangers in 13:25
Jarome Iginla squared the game on a 3 on 1, with Girardi sliding in vain and Biron helpless at 5:16.
A retaliatory hit by Curtis Glencross, whose check from behind gave Chris Drury a concussion on Nov. 7, 2009, was a mistake. He delivered a crosscheck from behind to the neck of Ryan Callahan, who had just creamed Jay Bouwmeester, to provide the Rangers with their second power play.
Derek Stepan won the faceoff in the offensive zone and Girardi’s blast from the point went in off Kiprusoff’s glove and gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 12:41 of the second.
For Girardi, who assisted on Boyle’s ninth goal, it was his first goal in 20 games.
“We really needed a win at home,” said Girardi, “and Marty has really helped us.” Biron stopped Iginla down low three times in the third period, and the Rangers held on—and kept hitting.
Marc Staal flattened Matt Stajan with a high shoulder at the blue line after he had just made a pass and Stajan didn’t return. “I saw him with his head down and came across and finished my check,” said Staal. “I felt I felt more of the impact on my leg and side. We finished our checks and they didn’t like it, and the animosity built.”
Said Tortorella: "It was the type of win where you're grinding. Most of the guys were giving everything they had and to have the goalie play the way he did in the third period, yopu feel good about yourself with a win. You get a tie and it's not as rewarding. We were not on our game but we found a way."