Defining moments are often, initially, incidental in nature. Only after a passage of time are they revealed to be something significant.
This was no different.
The second period horn had sounded a split second before Adam Mair threw a shoulder into Michael Del Zotto. Instantly, four of the second-year defenseman’s skated over to protect their defenseman and to stand up for the diagonal Rangers crest.
For a franchise that has been often ridiculed for being a collection of individuals rather than a team, that scene of collective unity was heartening. It could also signify the beginning of a special year on Broadway.
“We’ve been sticking up for each other. It shows what kind of group this is. We’re a pretty tight-knit group. We don’t let anybody take any knocks on any of our players. No matter who it is, we’re going to be there to back the guy up,” Brandon Prust said after the Rangers’ 3-1 win over the Devils last night at the Garden. It was the Rangers third win in as many games and their first win at MSG this season.
In every facet of the game, the Rangers proved to be superior against a Devils team that appears to be in disarray. The Rangers outshot New Jersey (34-24), blocked more shots (21-12), and seemingly won every battle along the boards and got to every loose puck.
Basically, the Rangers out-Deviled the Devils.
“The first two periods, I thought for most of our team concept we were good, aggressive. I thought we handled the neutral zone well. Our power play had some good looks. Again, we don’t finish there to get the next goal but we still score the winning goal on the power play,” John Tortorella said.
Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky were among the multitude of Rangers who played strong games. Callahan scored the game-winning goal—a power play tip of a Dubinsky feed in the second period—and assisted on Dubinsky’s empty-net goal with one second left along with leading all skaters with seven hits. Along with his two point night, Dubinsky threw three hits, had three takeaways and won seven-of-17 face offs. Michal Rozsival opened the scoring with a slapshot 1:26 into the second period while playing a strong game in the defensive zone. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 of 28 shots.
“Hard work is contagious. When you see one of your teammates put his body on the line and doing the things necessary to win games, it makes you want to do it, whether it is a fight, a blocked shot, a hit or a goal. You just have to take those positive things and repeat them. Right now, to a man, that’s what we’ve been doing,” Dubinsky said. “Winning is always fun. It’s fun because of the way we’re playing and the way everyone’s contributing. It’s not like we have one line that’s scoring five goals and we’re just hanging on. Each and every line is contributed, defense, goalies, all the way through the lineup. That’s been the biggest part of our success and that’s what makes it fun.”
Ilya Kovalchuk, who was in the lineup after being scratched in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to Buffalo, scored the Devils lone goal. Martin Brodeur made 31 saves.