That's literally what happened in my mind. The first two periods were somewhat lackluster. Credit Hank and the D for not having it be more than a 2-0 deficit. The Penguins weren't flying, per say, but every once in a while I'd look at Evgeni Malkin's moves and be forced to admit, to myself, what a great player he is. To make those moves and with that size - pretty remarkable.
But credit the Rangers. A good team, yes a good team, is able to capitalize at key moments. Hockey games are 60 minutes. The Penguins would be the first to admit, they stepped off the gas in the third. The Rangers woke up and seized the opportunity. This happens all the time. It's a great ending. The floor and walls of the Garden shook with force I haven't felt in a LONG time when Niki Zherdev scored the game tying goal with 8 seconds to go. And it was a pretty goal.
But it was more than just a last minute goal, in all honestly. The Rangers had 18 shots in the third for a game total of 44. For whatever they lacked in the first two, they made up for it in the third in intensity. The Penguins, for the record, only managed 2 in the third frame.
Credit, too, Freddy Sjostrom in the shootout. Playing on a fourth line with Blair Betts and Colton Orr will not get you a ton of points, but Sjo is now 2-2 in shootout goals with the two deciding winners. And every team needs one guy (at least) that you want in that final go-around of the shoot out, when it's on the line. And, he hasn't been a liability at all on the ice. Fast, capable - he's earned his time on ice.
It's so true that they will not all end this way. So savor it. But a character victory, absolutely. And hopefully it can be built upon starting Monday on Long Island.
- Chris Drury, although potting a secondary assist on the Markus Naslund PP goal (yeah, PP goal, you heard me), looked much of the same. At many times I swear he was flat footed. And twice, he got knocked down (or fell) to the ice and stayed down. Very peculiar behavior all around.
-The shot leaders for the NYRs for the night were Zherdev/3, Dubinsky/5, Callahan/5, Prucha/3, Naslund/6, and Gomez/9! I thought Gomez was not flying like he usually is, but 9 shots!
-I didn't think Prucha had a bad game at all. I think people were saying he had a giveaway that caused Pitts second goal, but I will have to go back to check. All I know is, as pretty much always, he was hussling and drew the penalty that the Rangers scored their first goal on....and yes, on the PP. I know I'm shocked too.
-I don't think it was Prucha being on the line, but I am concerned with Aaron Voros and Brandon Dubinsky being in negative numbers again. Although, those boys played against the Malkin line for Pittsburgh, and how can you be expected to hold him off all night is beyond me. Does anyone think they are suffering from lack of chemistry because Niki Z is now playing with other linemates? The Rangers needed secondary scoring, absolutely, but now their one line that was clipping, is looking more and more pedestrian.
-Callahan never doesn't fly. In his good games or his mediocre games. He's trying. Nigel Dawes, on the other hand, falls into the Drury camp. I saw him flat footed. I saw him reaching back for a puck that had gone by him on the boards more than once. Just seeming behind a step and making plays that could get him into trouble for it. Not sure. Maybe he goes out on Monday?
Around the League:
As I wasn't home, I didn't get to watch the other games last night. ALL the other games. But for once, DirecTV did not cut off HNIC After Hours and I was able to catch PJs last scoreboard update. (haha, he's hilarous with his moustache and the ensuing conversation). Here are some highlights:
-Milan Lucic scored 3 goals in Bostons 5-4 win over Atlanta. Yes, Lucic.
-Devils lose to the Flyers in OT after a stink-bomb or a flare was thrown onto the ice in Philly. I'm not saying that's right. It's horribly dangerous. But the articles I read this morning are almost blaming it. A Flyers player, the article said, skated by the Devils bench not once, but twice!, with the flaming object. I'm sorry, but if it were THAT bad, they would have delayed the game even longer, am I wrong? Again, not to apologize for the fan from Philadelphia. That's stupid and unneccessary.
-Apparently Toronto's Luke Schenn fought Ottawa's Chris Neil. I now love #2 even more than I thought I would.
No games today, so I guess I'm playing catchup from last week. I still have that Detroit/Rangers game from last Saturday I missed on my Tivo.