Rangers Outplayed but Survive Over Struggling Leafs
The portents didn't bode well for the Rangers tonight. They were playing their 3rd game in 4 nights, they had lost 2 games in a row, they were on the road in Toronto and in addition to being without Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal and Chris Drury, the club had a few other players battling nagging injuries. Derek Boogaard has an infected finger, Artem Anisimov had his bell rung a few nights ago against Atlanta and Michal Rozsival has been dealing with a sore knee.
No, it looked like the New York Rangers had a lot working against them tonight. However, this club has already displayed resiliency and fortitude and tonight they would rely on those qualities to get them through a 2 - 0 win over the Leafs.
Henrik Lundqvist turned in his best performance of the young season in turning away 36 Toronto shots. In a testament to how thoroughly the Leafs dominated play, Toronto attempted more than 90 shots on the King. Fewer than half made it to the net as the Blue Shirts blocked 35 shots.
The King was up to the task though. He made some spectacular saves as the Leafs continue to struggle offensively. Toronto has potted just 7 goals in their last 6 contests and have recorded only 3 points in the standings during that stretch.
Brian Boyle scored his 4th goal of the year in the first period just after a Brandon Prust roughing penalty expired. Boyle beat J.S. Giguere on the backhand with a shot I'm sure Giggy should have stopped.
The Rangers Ryan Callahan scored an insurance marker late in the 2nd with a penalty shot goal. The Leafs had the better of the play in the 2nd at one point possessing the puck in the Rangers zone for 12 of 15 minutes in the period.
Toronto had the puck in the Rangers zone when Dion Phaneuf attempted to pass the puck to his defense partner along the blue line. The pass was soft and Ryan Callahan intercepted it. He took off on a breakaway with Brandon Dubinsky. Phaneuf took Callahan down but Dubinsky nearly scored anyway as he was the first to reach the loose puck. The ref immediately signaled for a penalty shot. Callahan beat Giguere cleanly.
Callahan now has goals in 4 consecutive games and he leads the club with 11 points on the year.
This is the type of performance the Blue Shirts needed. They were completely gassed by the midway point in the contest but Lundqvist just wouldn't give in. The Rangers couldn't get much working offensively but stayed committed to playing team defense giving up the body whenever possible
Without a doubt I consider it fortunate the Rangers won this game. The Leafs did everything but score in thoroughly outplaying New York. The bottom line is the Rangers did the little things and got a magnificent performance from the King. A couple of opportunistic goals later and the Rangers leave Toronto with a W.
I had a great time tonight on the live in-game blog with Mike Aldred hosting. I had the pleasure of being on the winning side despite being outnumbered by Leaf fans on the forum. I'm sure I will be part of many more live game blogs this year so check back and be ready to participate when I do.