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Rangers Sneak Past Isles

The New York Rangers came away with two points at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Colesium Saturday night. Capitalizing on a defensive mistake in the overtime period helped the Blueshirts sneak out with the win against their division rival, the New York Islanders, who gained a point to stay ahead of the Rangers in the standings by one.

The only goal came in overtime off an offensive rush beginning in the Ranger defensive zone. Michael Del Zotto led the rush and sent a pass through the neutral zone to Derick Brassard. Brassard carried the puck parallel to the blue line weaving through the Islander’s defense and getting the pass off to Dan Girardi. Girardi drove to the net from the right side and roofed a shot right over the left shoulder of Evgeni Nabokov.

“I drove to the net,” said Girardi, who has 31 goals in seven NHL seasons. “He made a great pass. This says a lot about our team, the character of our team. (NHL.com)

Girardi added, “It’s a pretty cool feeling when you score that goal,” added Girardi, whose only other goal this season came against the Islanders on Feb. 14. “It’s a pretty good moment.”  (NHL.com)

The Rangers are now 5-1-1 in their last seven games. Henrik Lundqvist stopped a solid 29 shots and gained his first shutout of the season and the 44th of his career. The Rangers finished the season series at 3-0-1 against the Isles, but still one point behind their Long Island division rival in the standings. Important to note, however, is that the Rangers have a game in hand against both the Islanders and the Winnipeg Jets who are 2 points behind the Rangers in 9th place. The Jets have 44 points.

A big difference maker Saturday night was Henrik Lundqvist’s performance. There were pucks flying and plenty of Islander opportunities, most notably in the first period when Matt Moulson found himself alone in front.

Rangers Sneak Past Isles
The Islanders beat the Rangers to the puck more, but the Rangers won, 1-0, Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum as Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves for his first shutout of the season.
(AP)

“Hank was our backbone,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “There were a lot of bodies around him and pucks ricocheting all over the place. He gave us an opportunity and we end up scoring a goal.” (NHL.com)

As far as special teams go, the Rangers are now 5-16 (31.3%) in the last five games, compared to 14.3% with the man advantage prior to the trade deadline. The Blueshirts penalty kill is 17-18 in the last six games. The Rangers registered  a point in 15 of their last 19 games (13-4-2) when not allowing a power play goal.

As playoff time is quickly approaching it is important to note that the Rangers rank among the Eastern Conference in key statistics such as 3rd (5th in the NHL) in goals against average at 2.30, 5th (12th in the NHL) in face off percentage at 50.7%, and 3rd in hits (4th in the NHL) at 1208, a very characteristic statistic of the Blueshirts.

Rangers players swarmed Dan Girardi
Rangers players swarmed Dan Girardi after his winning goal in overtime.
(JEFF Z. KLEIN)

If the Rangers can at least go 4-3 in the final seven games of the season, it may be more than likely that the Blueshirts can find themselves in this year’s 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If Henrik Lundqvist can keep up his stellar performances and if the Rangers can find a way to generate more offense and take away the neutral zone for many of these quick offensive-minded teams, their chances are looking good.

The win Saturday night also helped the Rangers get the upper hand in terms of points (7 to 4) against the Islanders. This will be the second tiebreaker, after non-shootout wins, which will be crucial if come playoff time the Rangers and Isles are tied for points.

The Rangers look to increase their win streak this Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:30 p.m. ET in Philly.

 

Kaitlin Sullivan

Kaitlin Sullivan

Massachusetts native, and avid hockey fanatic, I grew up in a "hockey family" and began spending countless hours in frigid hockey rinks beginning at age 2. I eat, sleep, breathe, and love every aspect of the game and I have always known that hockey was my passion. Unfortunately being a 5'5" female, however, would not grant me a place in the show. The next best thing would be writing and hopefully someday becoming a rink-side NHL reporter. My past reporting experience includes work with ESPNU Campus Connection, WHDH Channel 7 Boston, and Madison Square Garden Network. I am currently a sports broadcasting major at Boston College. Twitter: @kaitEsull
Kaitlin Sullivan

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