Busy day. The Jody Shelley trade and then a feisty game. Read on.
Leading scorer Marian Gaborik lasted just one period on his stitched-up thigh. After playing just 1:20, Michael Del Zotto received his own gash, one that sliced his chest and took 50 stitches to close, courtesy of Evgeny Malkin’s skate during a tangle by the boards.
But the Rangers, sparked by a rare fight by Chris Drury and an equally rare resiliency, especially in Mellon Arena, a building in which the Blueshirts hadn’t won in the last 10 games, cobbled together a yeoman effort last night to beat the Penguins 3-2 on Olli Jokinen’s goal 1:02 into overtime. “It’s a huge two points given the situation we’re in,” said Jokinen, who arrived from
The emotional tipping point last night came at 10:35 of the second period, with the Rangers leading 2-1 on Vinny Prospal’s roofer over goaltender Brent Johnson at 9:44. Chris Drury hammered Matt Cooke into the boards near center ice, both went down and although no penalty was called, Cooke went ballistic, getting up and challenging the Rangers captain, who dropped his gloves and exchanged blows. Cooke continued to punch Drury, who was on the ice, and Michal Rozsival stepped in, drawing a game misconduct, and Cooke continued to shout from the bench. The Rangers bench, meanwhile, “was ten feet tall,” said coach John Tortorella.
Drury, who set up the Rangers first goal with a no-look pass from behind the net to Brandon Dubinsky at 1:28 of the second, said, “I guess his (Cooke’s) gut reaction was that it was dirty. I told him it wasn’t. The refs didn’t call anything. We’ve been preaching to everyone to finish their checks. I thanked him (Rozsival), he did get right in there. I was kind of looking for the refs.” Rozsival, who later fed Jokinen for the game-winner, was finished for the period, but the Rangers hung in with four defensemen. “I thought (Rozsival) was outstanding with his puck movement. He’s been banged up a little bit here and he carried a lot of weight for us tonight,” said Tortorella.
With 3:55 left in the second, Marc-Andre Fleury replaced Johnson, who appeared to pull a muscle on a Rangers wraparound attempt a few minutes prior, and the chippy period ended with the refs having to separate Sidney Crosby and Dubinsky.
“I loved it,” Lundqvist, who made 25 saves, said of Drury’s battle. “We just need that edge, to bring that energy to the game and don’t take a step back.” It was barely enough.
Tortorella said he thought the Rangers, who had a tentative first period but finished with 39 shots, rallied around the scrap and their shorthanded plight. “We knew he (Gaborik) wasn’t 100 percent going in. He came in after the warmup and he wanted to play. The Del Zotto’s split wide open. You lose two key guys and you wonder about what’s going to happen, but they pulled together. You’re always looking for rallying points. I think it added responsibility to other people.”