Henrik Lundqvist 2

Blueshirts Keep It Going

The Rangers were coming off an emotional 4-1 victory over the Devils on Thursday night.  The visiting Thrashers were down to their fourth string goaltender (fifth if you count the unplanned retirement of Pasi Nurminen in the Summer), and had given up seven power play goals in a 9-1 loss to Toronto the previous night.  The question going into the game was could coach Tom Renney keep the Rangers focused for this important match-up, against a team that has had a lot of success at MSG in recent years…the answer was an emphatic “YES!”.

It may not have been as dominating as the victory over the New Jersey Devils in terms of the flow of play, but for the second straight game the Rangers dominated on the scoreboard.  Once again they got scoring from multiple lines, and extended their streak of scoring first in the game to six games.  Rookie goaltender Henrik Lundqvist captured the hearts and minds of the MSG faithful, warranting multiple standing ovations and several chants of “Henrik” and “Lundqvist” during the game.  In a move seldom seen in hockey, the young netminder at one point acknowledged the crowd, which only served to further raise the volume of the chants.  The cheers continued into the post-game as the majority of the crowd stayed to watch Lundqvist awarded the first star of the game.

And deservedly so…

The young Swede once again saw the Rangers put up a lead for him to protect, but unlike Thursday’s game, Lundqvist was called on to help preserve the lead, particularly in the second with Marian Hossa seemingly controlling the play for Atlanta.  Lundqvist stopped all 14 shots he faced in the first two periods, and then stopped Marian Hossa on a short breakaway early in the third to keep the shutout intact.  With less than eleven minutes to go in the game, it took a deflection off of the skate of Darius Kasparaitis to beat Lundqvist, a goal that the veteran defenseman immediately went up to Lundqvist to apologize for.  It was at that point that the MSG crowd rose to their feet and saluted the young netminder’s performance on the night.

On the offense, the Rangers once again opened up the scoring with a Martin Rucinsky wrist shot that took a deflection off of a defender and beat Berkhoel, in his first NHL start.  Blair Betts provided a perfect screen on the play, and the Rangers were up 1-0 midway through the first.  The Rangers finished out the period with the one goal lead, and perhaps took a risk in giving up two power play opportunities to the high powered Atlanta offense.  New York were successful in killing off the penalties and went into the second period looking to extend their lead.

Early in the second Atlanta, and particularly Marian Hossa, began to take control of the game.  The Rangers protected their net well, but were often held deep in their zone for extended times.  As happens so often in hockey, one shift changed the momentum of the game.  The line of Nieminen, Moore and Ortmeyer captured the puck in the offensive zone on the forecheck and ultimately drew a penalty when Ortmeyer was tripped at the goal crease.  With Lundqvist off for the extra attacker, the Rangers continued to control the puck, and eventually got the puck back to the blueline for a shot from Michael Nylander who had joined the play.  Jed Ortmeyer picked up the rebound and then gathered his own rebound to put his team up 2-0.

It was 3-0 thirty five seconds later after Marcel Hossa lead Martin Rucinsky with a breakout pass, Rucinsky circling on the boards and feeding Steve Rucchin for the shot, first blocked but then wristed past Berkhoel for his first goal as a Ranger.  Nylander added a power play goal late in the second and the Rangers went into the final break with a 4-0 lead.

The Thrashers once again mounted pressure on the Rangers, registering 15 shots in the third period.  Lundqvist was called upon to make several good saves, and calmly stopped play on more than one occasion with the Rangers trapped in their own zone.  The goal that beat him was an unfortunately misdirection and gave the Thrashers some additional life, but Ville Nieminen, who had switched with Prucha and joined Jagr and Nylander put the icing on the cake with his second goal in two games.

Overall this was another strong effort by the Rangers.  The netminder and defense were called upon more so in this game, and Lundqvist made some important saves when the momentum could have shifted.  Once again the team got offensive from unexpected sources (Ortmeyer and Nieminen) and featured 11 of the 18 skaters on the scoresheet.

The Rangers next game will be 7:00pm at MSG v Florida this coming Monday

OTG Star Rangers
«Henrik Lundqvist
««Jed Ortmeyer
«««Dominic Moore
Report Card
A+Henrik LundqvistAll round great performance by Lundqvist
AJed OrtmeyerAgain played a big part in the game, registered the game winner
A-Marcel HossaNice pass to spring Rucinsky on the Rucchin goal, a couple of defensive plays too
A-Marek MalikBest defenseman for the Rangers
A-Dominic MooreMoore was all over the ice early in the game
A-Ville NieminenFinished the game on the Jagr line and picked up a goal for his troubles
B+Blair BettsAnother hard working effort by Betts
B+Darius KasparaitisFirst game of the year that Kasparaitis hasn’t taken a penalty
B+Maxim KondratievKondratiev appears to be getting better with every game
B+Michael NylanderContinues to look pass first, but did score a nice goal from the blueline
B+Petr PruchaSkated hard, willing to take shots, caused the Thrashers problems with his forecheck
B+Michal RozsivalAnother Ranger defenseman who has improved his game each week
B+Steve RucchinGood second effort to get the second shot off for his goal
B+Martin RucinskyAgain scored the first goal of the game with a wrist shot
B+Martin StrakaHas looked much better playing with Ward and Betts
B+Fedor TyutinUsed his strength more, and pinched to keep the puck in on several occasions
BJaromir JagrContinues to perhaps be overshadowed by the overall improvement in team play
BTom PotiHas cut down on the errors in his own zone, and started to get a little offense going too
BJason WardQuiet game for the big forward
ATom RenneyKept his team’s head in the game after an emotional win over the Devils Thursday
Game Notes
Jamie Lundmark and Jason Strudwick were healthy scratches, Kevin Weekes sat out with a groin injury
Darius Kasparaitis, Steve Rucchin and Jaromir Jagr each wore an “A” for the game
Steve Rucchinand Michael Nylander registered their first goals as a Ranger
Marek Malik registered his first point as a Ranger
Statistical Streaks
Games Played
Blair Betts – 6 games
Marcel Hossa – 6 games
Jaromir Jagr – 6 games
Darius Kasparaitis – 6 games
Dominic Moore – 6 games
Michael Nylander – 6 games
Jed Ortmeyer – 6 games
Michal Rozsival – 6 games
Steve Rucchin – 6 games
Martin Rucinsky – 6 games
Martin Straka – 6 games
Fedor Tyutin – 6 games
Jason Ward – 6 games
Maxim Kondratiev – 4 games
Tom Poti – 3 games
Henrik Lundqvist – 2 games
Marek Malik – 2 games
Ville Nieminen – 2 games (2 goals)
Martin Straka – 2 games (3 assists)
Michal Rozsival – 2 games (2 assists)
Jaromir Jagr – 3 games (2 goals, 2 assists)
Ville Nieminen – 2 games (2 goals)
Michal Rozsival – 2 games (2 assists)
Steve Rucchin – 2 games (1 goal, 1 assist)
Martin Straka – 2 games (3 assists)
Ryan Hollweg – 3 games (4 minors)
Jamie Lundmark – 2 games (3 minors)
Jed Ortmeyer – 2 games (2 minors)
Shots on Goal
Jaromir Jagr – 6 games (29 shots)
Martin Rucinsky – 6 games (19 shots)
Marek Malik – 5 games (10 shots)
Michael Nylander – 5 games (14 shots)
Blair Betts – 4 games (8 shots)
Dominic Moore – 3 games (7 shots)
Ville Nieminen – 3 games (4 shots)
Petr Prucha – 2 games (3 shots)
Maxim Kondratiev – 2 games (2 shots)
Martin Straka – 2 games (2 shots)
Games with a power play goal scored – 7 games (10 goals)

Games without being shutout – 8 games (3/30/2004 v Devils)
Games with at least 2 goals scored – 8 games
Games with at least 3 goals scored – 2 games
Games with at least 4 goals scored – 2 games

Games since last shutout – 16 games (3/9/2004 v Thrashers)
Games with 1 or fewer goals conceded – 2 games
Games with 2 or fewer goals conceded – 2 games
Games with 3 or fewer goals conceded – 4 games
Games with 4 or fewer goals conceded – 8 games
Games with 5 or fewer goals conceded – 19 games
Games with 6 or fewer goals conceded – 19 games
Games with 7 or fewer goals conceded – 39 games
Games with 8 or fewer goals conceded – 39 games
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