"We're not going to win a 1-0 hockey game tonight," Head Coach John Tortorella declared to the media just before his New York Rangers were to face the Vancouver Canucks.
The result? A 1 - 0 victory thanks to goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and a great supporting cast of gritty blue collar workers.
One was enough, but it wasn’t easy.
The Rangers handed the Canucks their first regulation loss since December 5 and first road loss since November 17.
Tortorella was all smiles in the post game press conference--and rightly so-- after the Rangers shutout the best team in the NHL.
“I was praying they’d [Canucks] tie it up and we'd win it 2-1 in overtime just so I wouldn’t have to face this,” he joked.
The game had a playoff vibe. Both teams battled hit for hit, shot for shot and save for save.
Lundqvist was stellar right up to the buzzer posting his sixth shutout of the season and 30th of his career. He turned aside 31 shots.
Wojtek Wolski slipped in his first goal as a Ranger on a rebound in the second period, which ended up the game winner. The power play unit gave the Rangers a much needed jolt of energy that they’ve been lacking at home.
Although they only got one goal past Canucks’ goalie Cory Schneider, the unit of Wolski, Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik, Matt Gilroy and Marc Staal kept the pressure on and got the Garden crowd rocking.
Gilroy played a solid game creating offense and taking care of business on D. As he has been moved to his natural right side, his game and confidence has risen.
Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko were electric, a staple throughout the season. They threw their weight around to successfully keep the powerhouse Sedin twins off the score sheet and had good puck movement in the zone.
Despite the great game, the Rangers still have a looming offensive drought to deal with. Snake-bitten scorer Marian Gaborik, who had an assist after he rang one off the post, had an oppotunity to bury a goal on a third period breakaway, but lost control of the puck in close.
However, Dubinsky continues to fuel the Rangers offense while their top sniper regains his touch.
The Blueshirts were successful because they played a Ryan Callahan-esque game.
Twenty-four blocked shots, a timely perfect penalty kill, flawless goaltending, 38 hits and a dose of passion made the recipe for the memorable win.
Their play begs the question of, "what if?" if they were able to finally field a healthy roster.
NOTES & QUOTES:
Questionable Calls: Perhaps some NHL refs could use new glasses to see what’s happening on the ice. Alex Burrows clearly speared Staal rather viciously in the second period. Instead, it was Staal who was forced to hobble to the penalty box hunched over for his retaliatory trip—likely not how he envisioned celebrating his 24th birthday.
Referees Dave Jackson and Marcus Vinnerborg reportedly told Tortorella they didn’t see the spear, hence the non-call.
“Ridiculous. If I’m Marc Staal, I’d retaliate too. I’d try to break his ankle,” said Tortorella to the media following the game.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Chris Drury was called for a delay of game after he unintentionally knocked a flying puck over the glass and out of play. But alas, rules are rules whether he meant to knock it out of the park Little League style or not. Maybe the refs did the Rangers a favor. The 5-on-3 penalty kill was a phenomenal boost of momentum in a tight match.