Broadway Blueshirts Are Tired But Inspired In Support of Their Liege.
After an abysmal game against Tamp Bay, the Rangers collectively tightened up their game and finished their road trip with two very well played games against the Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators.
Henrik, who had been win-less in his last three starts entering Friday night's game versus Florida, rebounded from a couple of forgettable performances, along with his teammates, and shout-out the Panthers 3-0. The Blueshirts and their King followed that up with a very gritty performance against the Predators, who put 40 shots on goal last night, and won in shoot-out for a 2-1 final score. The last shot for the Predators during the shoot-out was gloved by Henrik at point blank range. The Lundqvist "fist pump" after stopping that shot was a signal to his team that The King is back.
Brandon Dubinsky was the first off the bench to thank, congratulate and hug his goalie. And why not? After logging an exhausting 25:44 of ice time playing superb hockey, Dubinsky as much as Henrik or anyone dressed in Blue last night, deserved the victory. They needed all of the 65 minutes played and a goal by Christensen in the shoot-out to log their 9th road win versus 4 losses.
The Predators got on the scoreboard first. Dan Girardi couldn't handle a pouncing puck in the Ranger zone. Nashville pounced on it and capitalized on the turnover. A Ryan Callahan deflection from the slot off a Christensen pass from the top right corner found net to tie the game in the second period.. From that goal on, the Rangers played as smartly, intensely and as wily as they've played all year.
In the drubbing they suffered against the Lightning, the Rangers were skating like turtles in sand. Outside of a respectable third period...yea, it was that bad. But what is separating this team from previous years is their resiliency. They may have been dog-tired but this group is mentally strong and they dug deep within themselves and left nothing in reserve the last two games, so much so, Coach Torts smiled at reporters while speaking about his guys. Imagine that. A year ago, maybe we lose this game to Nashville. So, like Torts, I'm smiling too.
Now the Rangers get to bring their tired bones back to New York in preparation for the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow.
NOTES: Vinny Prospal was travelling with the team on the trip and is expected back soon. Marian Gaborik, whom Coach Torts called on to be better, while playing an engaging game against Florida, sat out last night with the flu. Let's hope that doesn't get around. Michal Rozsival is also back and played last night.