And third in four nights, as they rode a swell performance from Martin Biron, solid defense and a sparkling evening for the trio of Marian Gaborik (two goals and three points), Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov (two points each) in a 3-0 triumph over the Jets.
Below is my late game story, if you didn't get the paper or you didn't get past the Jets and Giants coverage. Rangers have the day off tomorrow, so we can fill in some more stats and quotes then.
Some things that didn't make the gamer: Rangers won 58 percent of the faceoiffs and outshot a team again. Brad Richards won 10 of 15; Brian Boyle 9 of 13....Brandon Dubinsky remains goalless in 13 games...Dan Girardi, whose right hand was wrapped after blocking a shot, and Ryan McDonagh played their usual 27-plus minutes and were each a plus-2...Sean Avery played just 5:21, which is what to expect of a fourth-liner...
Derek Stepan is stepping out, no pun intended.
That was coach John Tortorella’s post-game assessment tonight after the sophomore center scored midway through the second period on the power play and threaded a pass to Marian Gaborik for a goal off a 2 on 1 rush in the third, as the Rangers finished a six-game homestand with their fourth consecutive triumph, beating the Winnipeg Jets, 3-0.
“Some guys, you see their game is coming,” said Tortorella. “The game is clearer to him. I think he’s allowing himself to play.” Playing between Marian Gaborik, who added an empty net goal with 1.1 seconds left, and Artem Anisimov, who has been moved from center to left wing, has been bountiful for Stepan.
“We all create space for each other,” said Stepan, who left the University of Wisconsin to turn pro last year. “Gabby, I don’t know how he does some of the things he does. And me and Artie, we’re finding ourselves. I feel like tonight we connected all the dots.”
With Gaborik’s two goals and an assist on Stepan’s goal, the right wing has the team lead with 13 points in 13 games, and looks like the sniper that the Rangers remember from two season ago, when he scored 40 goals and 82 points.
And goaltender Martin Biron, who won his third game of the season subbing for Henrik Lundqvist, stopped 23 shots for his first shutout as a Ranger in the past two seasons and 27th of his career. His last whitewash came as an Islander, when he made 38 saves on Oct. 31, 2009 against the Sabres.
“That was early in the year, too,” said Biron, 34. “I used to play it down (shutouts), but not anymore.” Biron also was in net for the 2-1 win in Winnipeg on Oct. 24, stopping 27 shots, and for the 5-2 thrashing of the San Jose Sharks on Halloween. He has a 0.95 GAA and a .963 save percentage.
“Both teams looked a little sluggish at first,” said Tortorella, who was pleased with the 4-1-1 homestand, “and when we did have breakdowns, Marty was just so steady, he settles the team down.”
With both teams having played on Saturday night, it was a sloppy and scoreless until Stepan, who had two assists in Saturday’s 5-3 defeat of Montreal, one-timed a shot from the lower left circle that zipped over Ondrej Pavelec (24 saves) for his second goal of the season.
Tortorella said that Anisimov, who had been bounced from the No. 2 line with Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky to the No. 4 line this season, was a critical defensive presence on the new line. But Anisimov, who notched two assists, senses the offensive potential. “We’re holding onto the puck, looking to make plays, not just dumping it in,” said Anisimov, who has a team-high seven assists.
So, after a long pre-season in Europe and a 2-2-2 start, the Rangers are in a bit of a routine and 7-3-3. “It’s hard when you go on the road for that amount of time because sometimes there’s a let-down feeling that we’re home and it’s going to be a lot easier,” said Biron. “There was none of that. It was a lot of hard work that paid off in the end.”