for this game

Lundqvist shines as Rangers halt skid

Jan 13, 2008 - 4:35 AM
By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- His teammates gave him plenty of support, but it was a return to form by Henrik Lundqvist that enabled the New York Rangers to enjoy their first win of 2008.

Lundqvist made 18 saves and Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes each had a goal and an assist as the Rangers snapped a season-high five-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Chris Drury and Martin Straka scored first-period goals 10:03 apart as the Rangers opened a 2-0 lead after one session for the second straight game.

Captain Jaromir Jagr also reached another milestone, tying Hall of Fame defenseman Al MacInnis for 13th place on the all-time assists list by recording the 934th of his career when he set up Straka's tally.

Unlike Thursday's ugly 6-2 loss to Philadelphia in which New York allowed six unanswered goals, it continued to increase its lead with 15 shots in the middle session.

"It felt good to get a win," Lundqvist said. "Parts of our game in the losses that we've had we've played really well, but then something happens in the game. We just lose a little focus, a little confidence. But tonight, we worked really hard."

"We were certainly more focused and more determined, and it showed right from the start," Drury added. "It shows what we can do when we are focused and disciplined and play as a team."

Prucha and Dawes picked up their points during the middle period as the Rangers reached the four-goal plateau for the first time since December 30.

After allowing three tallies in seven of his previous nine appearances, Lundqvist yielded just a power-play goal by rookie Sergei Kostitsyn with 12:50 remaining in this one.

Before being beaten, Lundqvist helped successfully kill Montreal's first six power plays. He also made a series of spectacular saves during a pair of two-man advantages in the second for the Canadiens, who entered with the league's No. 1 power-play unit at 25.1 percent.

"I felt pretty good" Lundqvist said. "I just tried to be a little bit more aggressive, tried to play more on my toes. Last couple of games, I've been off to a good start and I'm playing on my toes, and I let in a couple of goals and I start playing on my heels instead. That's what happens sometimes to me, and I think also to the team."

Lundqvist, who was 2-5-2 with a 3.81 goals-against average in his previous nine games, allowed just one goal for the first time since December 18 vs. Pittsburgh. In this one, he denied Guillaume Latendresse and defenseman Patrice Brisebois during a late power play in the first period.

Those saves preserved the two-goal lead and also gave coach Tom Renney a good feeling about the eventual outcome.

"He looked very sharp," Renney said of Lundqvist. "He was completely square to the puck. I thought he made (the saves) look easy, so it really brought his focus. You just knew that he was on it real early."

Lundqvist continued to keep Montreal at bay with three more saves during a 5-on-3 in the middle session, including a glove stop on defenseman Mark Streit's slap shot with 15:20 remaining.

"He's been great," Rangers All-Star center Scott Gomez said. "We kind of let him out to dry a couple of times, but he came up with the big save on the penalty kills. If we're going to do anything, we need Hank, and he was great tonight."

The Canadiens avoided being blanked for a third time but failed to get a point for the first time in eight games (5-1-2). While they credited Lundqvist, they also cited a lack of focus on their part.

"Their goaltender was making the saves when they were needed, but I think we just weren't focused enough and we didn't give ourselves a chance to win tonight," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "When you're not ready to play 5-on-5, I think it shows on the power play."

"We just didn't battle," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau added. "We had some shots there, (but) not a lot, and anytime they had a loose puck, they won the battle."

Cristobal Huet suffered his first regulation loss since November 24, making 24 saves before being pulled for Jaroslav Halak after two periods.

"I think they were very desperate and we couldn't match their skating and work ethic," Huet said. "They got on the board first, and that gave them confidence. Last time they had a 2-0 lead, they lost the game, so I guess they wanted to make sure (they won)."

While Lundqvist keyed one of New York's better defensive efforts of late, it was strong playmaking that resulted in all the goals.

The Rangers scored first for the third straight game when Drury intercepted a pass by Montreal All-Star defenseman Andrei Markov in the defensive zone and raced down the ice. After giving the puck to Marcel Hossa near the left point, he completed the give-and-go by sliding a backhander past Huet at 3:17 of the first.

New York doubled its lead on a spectacular play by Jagr.

Gomez began the play by digging the puck out of the left corner and feeding Jagr, who struggled to maintain his balance as Bryan Smolinski and defenseman Josh Gorges tried to pry the puck away from him. Jagr weaved through the defenders before dishing to Straka, who beat Huet from the left faceoff circle at 13:20.

Straka had missed New York's previous two games with a concussion.

"He comes back and scores a huge goal for us," Gomez said. "He brings it every night, and we need him."

The impressive playmaking continued just 5:51 into the second, when Dawes made a pass from the left corner to Prucha, who deposited the puck into the top left corner of the net. No signal was made and play continued, but at the next stoppage, a video review confirmed the tally, giving the Rangers a 3-0 bulge.

Prucha completed his second multi-point effort of the season when he outraced Gorges for a loose puck and fed Brandon Dubinsky, who was checked from behind by defenseman Francis Bouillon. Maintaining possession, Dubinsky dished to Dawes, who scored from the right side of the net with 22 seconds left in the middle period.

Kostitsyn spoiled Lundqvist's shutout bid at 7:10 of the third, converting a pass from brother Andrei for his third goal of the season.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 0 1 1
    NY RANGERS 2 2 0 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NYR - CHRIS DRURY 12 (MARCEL HOSSA) 3:17
    NYR - MARTIN STRAKA 8 (JAROMIR JAGR, SCOTT GOMEZ) 13:20
    2ND PRD: NYR - PETR PRUCHA 5 (NIGEL DAWES, PAUL MARA) 5:51
    NYR - NIGEL DAWES 6 (BRANDON DUBINSKY, PETR PRUCHA) 19:38
    3RD

    Jan 12 9:28 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 1
    NY RANGERS 4
    3RD PRD: MON - (PP) SERGEI KOSTITSYN 3 (ANDREI KOSTITSYN, ANDREI
    MARKOV) 7:10

    Canadiens vs. RangersJan 12 9:10 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 0 0
    NY RANGERS 2 2 4 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NYR - CHRIS DRURY 12 (MARCEL HOSSA) 3:17
    NYR - MARTIN STRAKA 8 (JAROMIR JAGR, SCOTT GOMEZ) 13:20
    2ND PRD: NYR - PETR PRUCHA 5 (NIGEL DAWES, PAUL MARA) 5:51
    NYR - NIGEL DAWES 6 (BRANDON DUBINSKY, PETR PRUC

    Jan 12 8:39 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 0
    NY RANGERS 4
    2ND PRD: NYR - NIGEL DAWES 6 (BRANDON DUBINSKY, PETR PRUCHA) 19:38

    Canadiens vs. RangersJan 12 8:39 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 0
    NY RANGERS 3
    2ND PRD: NYR - PETR PRUCHA 5 (NIGEL DAWES, PAUL MARA) 5:51

    Canadiens vs. RangersJan 12 8:15 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 0
    NY RANGERS 2 2 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NYR - CHRIS DRURY 12 (MARCEL HOSSA) 3:17
    NYR - MARTIN STRAKA 8 (JAROMIR JAGR, SCOTT GOMEZ) 13:20
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MON 6 6
    NYR 13

    Jan 12 7:43 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 0
    NY RANGERS 2
    1ST PRD: NYR - MARTIN STRAKA 8 (JAROMIR JAGR, SCOTT GOMEZ) 13:20

    Canadiens vs. RangersJan 12 7:33 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 0
    NY RANGERS 1
    1ST PRD: NYR - CHRIS DRURY 12 (MARCEL HOSSA) 3:17

    Canadiens vs. RangersJan 12 7:15 PM