How many times can it be said? NHL games are won by goaltending and special teams.
The Rangers power play, which carried them early in the season, has deteriorated, going scoreless in 7:50 last night and generating just four shots.
The worst part? 5:50 of that time came at the top of the third period in a 1-1 game with the Penguins at the Garden.
The man-advantage units are 3-for-31 in the last 10 games and the Blueshirts have won just three of those games.
“We have to find a way to get that going. If we get one early there ( on the four-minute high-sticking on Jordan Staal that opened the third period), one or two early there, it’s a different game. W ejust have to find a way to battle heard and at least get some momentum off it. I felt like they got the momentum off it.”
Indeed, the Pens had at least two shorthanded opportunities on rushes against Lundqvist, who has allowed seven goals in the last 86 minutes.
Maybe it is Artem Ansimov who should be getting more power play time, (he had 3:03 last night) perhaps with Gaborik (minus-2) and Prospal and/or Lisin. The rookie center had six shots on net and won 11 of 15 faceoffs.
“He is one of the guys I am using quite a bit away from the puck, late in games. His defensive awareness has improves,” said coach John Tortorella. “As he grows and gets stronger, he is going to be a very good player.”
Like a mad scientist, Tortorella continued to juggle lines but hasn’t used Donald Brashear or Brian Boyle to create screens in front of opposing goaltenders on the PPs. Worth a try, no?
One other suggestion: Leave the Higgins-Anisimov-Lisin line (four points) together.
My gamer below, notes on Newsday.com:
For two straight games, the Rangers didn’t score a goal. Tonight, they had two by Artem Anisimov, his first points in 18 games, and a 2-1 edge over the Penguins halfway through the third period.
The lead, however, was gone in a flash as the Penguins scored twice in a minute, with Chris Connor, summoned from the AHL yesterday morning to replace the injured Bill Guerin, netting the game-winner, his second goal of the game and his NHL career.
Evgeni Malkin tied the game on a power play, with Marian Gaborik off for slashing, just 31 seconds after Anisimov’s ninth goal on a blast from the right point that hit Chris Drury. Then, after Henrik Lundqvist sticked Sidney Crosby’s shot off a rush away to the right, Conner fired the puck past Lundqvist from the left side for the 3-2 lead.
With 39.8 seconds left, Pascal Dupuis iced the Rangers their third consecutive loss with an empty-netter with 39.8 seconds left for the 4-2 final.
“This one was painful,” said Lundqvist. “We get the penalty, they get a lucky goal on a deflection off our player. We’ve had a bunch of these games this year. It could be a different story if we manage to win these games.”
The 1-1 game could have changed at the beginning of the third, but the Rangers went scoreless for six minutes of power play time. At the 20-second mark, Jordan Staal was sent off for four minutes for high-sticking Vinny Prospal and with 10 seconds left on that, the Rangers drew another. “We get one early there, it’s a different game,” said Brandon Dubinsky. After Ryan Callahan caught up with Matt Cooke on a shorthanded breakaway and prevented a shot, Cooke roughed Callahan near the bench. Marc-Andre Fleury smothered two high shots from his knees in that sequence. “When we do get set up, it just seems we miss a pass, and we’ve got to be better at retrieving pucks,” said Michael Del Zotto.
In his first game back after sustaining a broken ring finger and missing four games, Fleury stopped 28 shots as the Penguins (33-20-1) took their seventh straight against the sinking Blueshirts (24-22-7) and are 4-0 against
“Artie scored a big (second) goal and we had to respond after that,” said Dubinsky, who was on ice with Prospal and Gaborik (one goal in the last 10 games). “We had to make sure we did our job, and we didn’t.”
After two successive shutouts, Anismov had ended a team scoreless streak of 156:32 when his wrister from the high slot zipped past Fleury’s glove at 13:04 of the second. Pens defensman Mark Eaton, harried by Chris Higgins, turned the puck over and Anisimov charged in. Conner had scored at 2:47 of the first, beating Lundqvist short side to the left post on a cross-ice feed from
The rally ruined the first multi-goal game for the 21-year-old Anisimov, who poked a loose puck between Fleury’s skates at 9:13 of the third. Then Fleury accidently tapped it in with the skate blade. “I was watching it from behind the net,” said Anisimov.
To pull out of this hole, some of his teammates have to do more than just watch.