After a very light practice with a handful of players this morning in Westchester, Marty Biron jammed a helmet on his six-year-old son and stayed on the ice a little longer.
At that point, Biron had no idea that around 5 p.m, the announced starter in goal, Henrik Lundvist, would show up at the Garden weakened from the flu.
"I was walking around and I saw Henrik and he said he wasn't feeling that great," Biron (now 2-2) said after making 29 saves to slice the Sabres 3-2 in overtime and insure the Rangers a much-needed home win. "I thought there was a possibility I might play. Torts walked in and told me I would be the one to start. At that time, i was already in game mode."
And if it hadn't sunk in, Biron was struck in the upper chest by an Anismov shot in warmups.
Said Tortorella: "He gets kind of thrown in...He made some big saves, that's what I like about him. We just don't get it into overtime without some of his saves. That's good news for us, not just tonight but for the future."
The future had already begun to look a little rosier with the return of Marian Gaborik, who played 18:40 with three shots but without hitting the scoresheet. But he was a factor early, especially on the power play, even though it was 0 for 4.
"It's the talent level he brings," said Tortorella. You saw on his first couple of shifts. On the power play he had a couple of great chances. he is dynamic and is goign to make other players better. it is good to have him back."
As for Gaborik, "I feel pretty good for the first game back," he said. "I haven;t played for three weeks. The first game is always the tough one, but I felt better than I expected...It wasn't a pretty game to watch, but it was a tight game. We got two points andf that's the most important thing."
The two points gave the Rangers 17 points in 16 games, with Edmonton arriving for a matinee. The home mark is now 3-5-1.
Anisimov, with his first multi-goal game of the season, led all skaters with five shots on goal. He had five goals and 13 points after not scoring in nine games.
Fedotenko had a goal and assist and had a goal waved off again. He hadn't scored in 10 games.
Biron has held opponents to two or fewer goals in three of his four starts.
Dan Girardi, whose point shot led to Anisimov's winnign wrister, has assists in three of the past four games.
The Sabres had just two power plays, as the Rangers took just three penalties, two on the same incident, at 5:12 of the second, when Sauer and Fedotenko went off for boarding and roughing.
On faceoffs, the Rangers were pretty lousy again, except for Dubinsky, who won 13 of 17 and White, 2 for 3. Christensen was 3 of 14; Stepan 0 for 4, Boyle 3 of 9.
With Michal Rozsival (shoulder) out for a week to ten days, Steve Eminger played a season-high 19:57....Sean Avery played just 10:06, (think that's a season low for him, don't have my scorebook with me tonight)...The Rangers were outshot 31-28....Alex Frolov, who couldn't lift the puck over a prone Enroth in the third period, continues to be snake-bit. He hasn't scored since Oct. 23 in Boston, a ten-game drought.