Steve Valiquette

Valliquette Backstops Shootout Shutout

The Rangers head into Detroit tonight (7:00pm – MSG) with a 6-1-0 record courtesy of Stephen Valiquette and his third NHL career shutout. The Rangers did it tough last night against the Leafs, needing a shootout to get one past Maple Leaf netminder Vesa Toskala and finish the game 1-0.

Nikolai Zherdev opened up the scoring and Fredrik Sjostrom scored the game winner in the shootout, while Valiquette stopped two of the the three shots he faced to send the Rangers back on the road with a win.

New York struggled through two periods of uninspiring play, before they finally turned up the pressure in the third. Once again they couldn’t score, although they came close when a Scott Gomez shot ricocheted off of Ryan Callahan‘s leg and then off of both posts, followed by a Dan Girardi shot that caught the inside of the post only minutes later.

Toskala was strong all night though, stopping 32 Rangers shots and helping to kill off eight Ranger power plays. He gave his team a chance to win in OT, but Valiquette, who had seen just 16 shots through the first 60 minutes, stopped all five shots he faced as the Rangers killed off a Michal Rozsival penalty.

It was a game the Rangers were expected to win, but new coach Ron Wilson is finding a way to wring every last bit out of his line-up and with Toskala in net, there’s always a chance that he has a great game last night.

While the Rangers have had difficulty in their last couple of games to generate offense, the Red Wings have been guilty of far too many turnovers. Detroit are 0-1-1 to start the season on home ice, a situation that Red Wing defender Niklas Kronwall hopes the team can tighten up tonight.

Detroit will be without Henrik Zetterberg and Brad Stuart tonight, but they still have plenty of fire power, including Marian Hossa. Hossa joined the team on a one year contract over the summer, but is still adjusting to his new team.

The Wolf Pack also struggled to get one by Hamilton Bulldogs netminder Marc Denis last night, losing 2-0 and falling to 1-2-0 on the season. Miika Wiikman picked up the third star of the game with 27 saves on 29 shots.

The Charlotte Checkers opened up their 2008-09 campaign with a loss to the Florida Everblades. Charlotte were outscored 6-3, with Rangers prospect Tomas Zaborsky scoring the third goal for the Checkers on the PP.

In a “where are they now?” article, The Daily News caught up with former Ranger defenseman Jeff Beukeboom who is currently an assistant coach with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League.

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