Its been a tale of two seasons for the Rangers. Their home record stands at 8-2 while they are still winless on the road at 0-5-1. Tonight was another example of a dominant home performance as the Rangers mustered 39 shots in a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The team is now 1-1 head to head, the other game ending in a 1-0 Penguin's victory.
Lots of good highlights from this game. The 1st period was all Rangers as they put 22 shots on net to the Penguin's 6. Gomez opened the scoring at the 7:35 mark. Sean Avery skated down the right wing and ripped a slap shot that went wide of the net. It richoceted off the end boards and right to Gomez who one-timered it past a diving Fleury for his 4th on the year. The lead only lasted 4 minutes when Sergei Gonchar threw one on net from the point that found a hole over the right shoulder of a screened Lundqvist. The Rangers answered only six minutes later at 17:26 on the power play. Jagr and Gomez played catch around the right boards while Michael Rozsival snuck to the net from the left point. Gomez got the puck near the goal line and passed it through the crease to a wide open Rozsival for the stuff in.
In the second period, the play was more balanced as the Rangers only outshot the Penguins 10-8. The only goal was by Sean Avery on the power play, the second PP goal in 8 chances for the Rangers. Mara at the right point passed it across to Daniel Girardi. He passed it cross ice to Avery in the right slot who sent a one-timer over the left shoulder of Fleury for a 3-1 lead. Great night for Avery who finished with a goal, an assist and the usual agitaion.
The Rangers added to that lead in the 3rd when the Penguins turned over the puck in the neutral zone. Dawes recovered the puck and skated in on a two on one. Dubinsky joined the play with speed and Dawes left it for him in the right slot. Dubinky drove to the net and backhanded glove side on Fleury. It was his first NHL goal, congratulations to him and save the puck for the grandkids. Recchi added a power play goal on a scramble in front of the net but it was not enough and the Rangers held on for a 4-2 win. They jump to second place in the division and only a point behind the Flyers for first. The division race is really tight here with the leader at 18 pts and the 4th place Pens at 15 pts. Even this early, every game counts.
Lundqvist was strong in net once again, making some remarkable saves from in close and made 26 saves for his 8th victory of the season. The offense was strong again but this time had 4 goals to show for it. The finish was better as all four goals were created by good set up passes and relatively easy shots for the scorer. The power play is up and running again as they scored two goals and have had success when they are not pressured and able to set up the play.
The Rangers outplayed the Penguins in all aspects of the game and the sooner they can do that on a consistant basis, the sooner they will play up to and beyond the level they were at in the second half of last season. This game really has the potential to be the turning point for the Rangers who carry a 5 game home win streak into a 4 game road trip in which they will face Tornto, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh. If they win 3 out of 4, it will be a huge boost for the team and especially the offense which has been excellent as of late.
The Rangers now stand at 8-7-1, having won 6 out of 8. The next game is saturday night in Toronto. Once again, a great night for the Rangers and I can go to sleep happy. LETS GO RANGERS!