Rangers stem tide in OT win
Confidence is not an issue for the Rangers.
Still, the mass of humanity that mobbed Marian Gaborik after the right wing’s power play goal with 5.8 seconds remaining in overtime could be viewed as reassuring. Gaborik’s goal gave the Rangers a 4-3 win over the Islanders Sunday night.
“It’s a great feeling to win,” Brian Boyle said of the Rangers’ first win in four games. The Rangers’ 43rd win of the season increased their point total to 93, the exact same amount that they finished compiled in 44 games last year.
Brad Richards had two goals, while Brian Boyle added the other for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist allowed three goals on 19 shots.
John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Andrew MacDonald scored for the Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov made 32 saves.
Rangers coach John Tortorella has reiterated the bizarre nature of the Islanders rivalry games. Last night was no different.
P.A. Parenteau drew a four-minute power play as he was high-sticked under the chin by Derek Stepan, but blood was not visible. The penalty led to Moulson’s 29th goal of the season, which gave the Isles a 2-1 lead 7:44 into the second period. Moulson batted a puck that had popped into the air past Lundqvist.
Yet the Rangers had a chance because Richards was the dominant top-line center the organization envisioned when they signed him to a nine-year, $60 million free agent contract during last July’s free agent period.
He scored two goals — both on the power play — that tied the game at 1-1 and 2-2. It was Richards’s first two-goal performance since a 5-4 shootout loss to the Senators at the Garden on Oct. 29. Richards also set up his teammates for scoring opportunities. The only flaw in his performance was that he was 4-for-12 in the faceoff circle.
“He played really well,” Tortorella said. “He’s still a pretty good damn player.”
The Rangers were trailing 3-2 until Boyle drew them even at 3:29 into the third with a tip of Ryan McDonagh’s point shot. The play began with Boyle winning an offensive zone draw before creating space in the high slot.
“My job’s the easiest one. I just have to stand there,” Boyle said of his goal. “I’m happy to do it.”
Richards drew the Rangers’ final power play of the game 2:56 into overtime when he was tripped in the neutral zone by Travis Hamonic. The Rangers moved the puck through the offensive zone in setting up Gaborik’s laser shot. The game-winning goal was Gaborik’s 33rd of the season.
“We did a good job of moving around. Finally they were so desperate to block shots we got a clear shot,” Richards said of the puck movement on the power play.
Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto did not play as they are still feeling the ill-effects of foot and hip injuries, respectively. Callahan has missed three of the Rangers last seven games while Del Zotto has missed three of the last six games due to the ailments.
Last night’s game kicked off a seven-game homestand, the longest of the season.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.