Friday, October 21, 2005

Inside Blueshirts

Rangers Drop Second Straight To Crosstown Rivals: After an exciting 3-2 shootout loss Wednesday night at The Garden, the Rangers fell to the Islanders for the second consecutive game; this time falling 5-4 in regulation at Nassau Coliseum Thursday.

The Isles jumped all over the Rangers with three goals in a 1:18 span to take control early. But by the end of the period, Jaromir Jagr had gotten two goals back in the final minute, scoring once on a five-on-three and 55 seconds later with just three seconds left in the first.

But in an unpredictable game, Arron Asham's shorthanded goal proved to be the backbreaker early in the second. Though Martin Rucinsky would notch his fifth goal of the season less than a minute later, the Blueshirts could never get over the hump. Trailing 4-3 early in the third, a Michal Rozsival hooking penalty proved costly when Mark Parrish redirected a Brent Sopel shot for his second tally of the seesaw contest.

With another power play tally off a goalmouth scramble, Jagr completed his 12th career hat trick and first as a Ranger to cut the deficit to 5-4 with 5:42 remaining. However, his three goals which gave him a league-leading 10 (8 PP) and 14 points on the season wouldn't be enough on this night.

Returning from a groin injury which kept him out four games, Kevin Weekes had a rough night, stopping only 16 of 21 Isles' shots.

The loss was just the club's second in regulation in their first nine games.

Straka Tallies Two Assists: In the loss, LW Martin Straka picked up two assists to increase his '04-05 total to a league best 11. The 33-year-old Czech native has recorded seven of those assists via the power play. He has yet to score a goal this season.

Rucinsky Hot Of Late: With his goal Thursday, LW Martin Rucinsky continued his hot play. Currently tied for second with Straka in team scoring with 11 points (5-6-11), the 34-year-old 15-year veteran has eight points (3-5-8) in his last five games.

Tyutin Leading The Way On D: Despite struggling against the Islanders, D Fedor Tyutin has been very steady so far this season. The 22-year-old Russian product paces all Ranger defensemen with a goal and four assists. After a slow start to the season, the former 2001 second round pick has a four-game pointscoring streak (1-3-4) along with a plus-three rating in that span.

Hossa Continues To Pay Dividends: Before the season got underway, the Rangers dealt C/LW Garth Murray to Montreal in exchange for LW Marcel Hossa. The younger brother of NHL star Marian, Marcel had yet to make his mark in the league. Deemed expendable by Montreal entering his fourth season, Hossa has played on New York's second line with Steve Rucchin and Rucinsky. After assisting on a Rucinsky goal Thursday, Hossa enters Saturday with seven points (3-4-7). In his first three years with the Canadiens, the former 2000 first round selection produced 19 points (10-9-19) in 59 career games.

Lundqvist Turning Heads: G Henrik Lundqvist has been impressive so far in his debut NHL season. In five starts with the Blueshirts, the 23-year-old Swedish product has gone 3-0-2 with a 1.37 goals against average (GAA) and .944 save percentage. He recorded his first NHL shutout this past Monday with 23 saves in a 4-0 win over Florida. The former 2000 seventh round pick became the first Ranger rookie netminder to earn a shutout since John VanbiesBrouck did it 20 years ago with a 6-0 blanking of Vancouver back on January 2, 1985.

Prucha Scores First Two NHL Goals: RW Petr Prucha netted his first two NHL goals this past week. The 23-year-old Czech native was taken by the Rangers in the eighth round of the 2002 Draft. Signed before the season, Prucha has played in six games mostly on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Jed Ortmeyer. Against Florida, he scored his first NHL goal on a two-on-one, beating Roberto Luongo top shelf. Trailing the Islanders 2-1 late in the third Wednesday, Prucha rewarded Ranger coach Tom Renney with a power play goal off a deflection for his second tally in two games to give the Blueshirts at least a point at MSG.

Rangers Visit Buffalo Tonight: Rangers (4-2-3) travel to Buffalo (5-2-0) Saturday night (7:30 PM) for the first of four meetings this season. In '03-04, the Sabres took the season series, winning three of four. Buffalo leads the all-time series with a 62-46-25-1 record in 134 meetings. Historically, the Blueshirts have struggled at Buffalo, winning just 19 times in 68 games (19-39-10-0). They split two games at HSBC Arena in '03-04 with both decided by 3-1 margins.

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