Henrik Lundqvist shook off the déjà vu he must have felt at the Wells Fargo Center this afternoon. In a tight game to kick off spring with a playoff berth on the line and a looming shootout, Lundqvist came out the victor this time around.
Last year–in the last game of the season–the Rangers missed the playoffs by a point in a shootout loss to the Flyers in Philly. The Blueshirts showed the effort, determination and focus necessary this afternoon to conquer that haunting stigma from occuring again. They are one step closer to deciding their playoff fate.
Erik Christensen and Wojtek Wolski, who returned from being in the healthy scratch doghouse, came through in their area of expertise: the shootout. Lundqvist shut down former Ranger Nikolay Zherdev on the first shootout attempt, paving the way for Wolski and Christensen to work their magic, or what little of it they have anyway. Christensen has five goals in eight shootouts this season.
The nail biter victory snapped an untimely two game losing skid and gave the Rangers two much needed points. At 89 points, they have a two point lead over the ninth place Carolina Hurricanes (87 pts.) who lost in overtime to the seventh place Sabres this afternoon (90 pts.)
Bryan McCabe came alive at the point, which is what the Rangers were hoping for when they traded for the veteran defenseman with the potential of a scoring touch. James van Riemsdyk struck first for the Flyers to give them a 1-0 lead. With less than a second left in the first period, McCabe fired home a tying goal on a 5-on-3 power play.
Hardworking grinder Ruslan Fedotenko scored in the second period to give the Rangers a lead but Zherdev got the Flyers right back in it with a goal in the third to tie things up. A quiet overtime meant a shootout, which couldn’t have worried the Rangers too much. They lead the league with nine shootout victories along with three other teams.
The Rangers will round out the season at Madison Square Garden, facing the Bruins tomorrow night. They’ve won four of their last five home games, which is a good sign for a team that hasn’t always satisfied the Garden faithful this season posting a home record of 18-16-4. If they win all three remaining games, they’ll guarentee a trip to the postseason regardless of what the Hurricanes do. If they drop a couple of points, they could be in trouble with the hungry Canes knocking at the door.
Flyin High: The Rangers lost the first four games played against the Flyers this season. But the last two times New York and Philly squared off, the Blueshirts have come out strong and taken advantage of the Flyers fickle goaltending. On March 6 they exploded for a 7-0 victory. If the playoffs started tomorrow, the hated rivals would be facing each other the first round.The Black-and-Blueshirts would give the now struggling Broad Street Bullies a run for their money. The first place Flyers’ back-to-back losses to non-playoff teams like the Devils and Thrashers showed they are in fact vulnerable and capable of collapse.
Get McHappy: Ryan McDonagh leads the team with a +17 rating which means the rookie defenseman tends to be on the ice for goals scored rather than goals given up. That’s a good sign for the future of the Rangers’ blue line. He logged almost 22 minutes of ice time on Sunday.
The last time…the New York Rangers won 24 road games in a season, they won the Stanley Cup to end a 54-year drought. Just a little something to daydream on.
About the Author
Written by Margaret DeJesus
I'm a recent college graduate looking for a dream job covering hockey. I've been watching the New York Rangers since my grade school days of VHS and Gordon Bombay's "ducks fly together" speech. While studying journalism at Boston University (COM '10), I wrote for the Daily Free Press, the student newspaper. I worked two summers at the Staten Island Advance, my hometown newspaper, writing city news and features. I've also written CD reviews for Music-Reviewer.com. One of my favorite gigs was interning for hockey analyst extraordinaire Stan Fischler covering the Boston Bruins and attending all their home games in the 2009-2010 season. (Yes, including the crushing defeat against the Flyers in the Eastern Conference playoffs.)