NEWARK----Twelve shots in the first 40 minutes. 20 in the game, one fewer than Thursday night's season low. What's that song, "how long... has this been going on?"
So the Rangers split the back-to-backs in Philly and Jersey, tonight because Henrik Lundqvist bounced back with an A-game. Brian Boyle's power play tip-in of Dan Girardi's point shot with 35.5 ticks left ion the seocnd period was the key, Lundqvist reported afterward. it was the cushion that allowed for a mistake, a lapse, that fortunately for the Blueshirts, never happened. The King has kicked out 30 or more shots in eight of his 11 appearances.
Sure, Brandon Dubinsky's red-hot goals streak continues, as singlehandedly, it seems, he is making up for Marian Gaborik's absence. He has 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in the last eight games. He has 14 points in 13 games. Linemate Artem Anisimov, with two assists the third star of the evening, has two goals and six assists in the last eight.
As for the team, they've won six of nine, and find themselves with 15 out of a possible 26 points, not too shabby at all and right behind the Flyers in the Atlantic Division.
And what of Ilya Kovalchuk, the $100 million man? Four shots and a minus-2, as Girardi (27.23) and Marc Staal (25:13) combined to quiet the Devils' best player.
Speaking of offense, or lack of it, Erik Christensen and Alex Frolov combined for zero shots. Boyle is second ont he team in goals, for Pete's sake. And the Rangers still can't win faceoffs, down 69-31 percent to the Jerseyans. Rod Pelley and Travis Zajac (28-7) helped the Devils hem in the Rangers for what seemed like forever in their zone during the first and second periods.
"We're not getting the second and third chances," said Devs coach John McLean. "We're just not able to get to the rebounds or the bounce or the ugly goal." That was because of Lundqvist's directional saves and some clearings by the D.
On a positive note, coach John Tortorella said he expects that sidelined Ryan Callahan (neck) will return for the Blues game at MSG on Sunday. The Rangers will gladly accept any help upfront that they can. "I thought we hung in there, grinded, and got a big win...Hank was Hank."