Nylander's Four Points Enough Against Canes
Coming off their worst defeat of the season, the Rangers bounced back with a hard fought 4-3 win over Carolina (14-4-1) in a rematch at The Garden Saturday afternoon. Despite a sore ankle which kept him out of practice Friday, Michael Nylander's goal and three assists helped the Blueshirts snap a two-game losing streak. Factoring in all the scoring, Nylander's four points were one off a career best five established his rookie season with the Hartford Whalers on April 7, 1993.
Much sharper than at Carolina two nights ago, the Rangers scored first off some hard work from the top unit of Nylander, Martin Straka and Jaromir Jagr. Held to just one unassisted Nylander goal in a 5-1 loss Thursday, the number one line combined for eight points (2-6-8). On a cycle off the back boards, Straka one-timed Jagr's misdirection pass from a sharp angle to beat Martin Gerber for his third tally of the season at 4:14. It was the first of three assists for Jagr with Nylander adding a secondary assist.
But just 6:20 later, Carolina leading scorer Eric Staal tied the game at one. Taking advantage of a Nylander giveaway, Staal came in two-on-one with Erik Cole and fired a shot past Kevin Weekes for his 14th of the season at 10:34. The goal was unassisted.
However, Nylander helped New York reclaim the lead on a power play 4:48 later. Off a Petr Prucha rebound, Nylander caught a break when Carolina defenseman Aaron Ward inadvertently put the puck into his own net. Nylander was credited with the unassisted goal to give his team a 2-1 lead at 15:22.
Prucha increased the margin to two 9:22 into the second when he one-timed home a Jagr pass to convert the Rangers' second power play goal of the game. With Carolina down two men, they worked the puck around to Nylander, who fed Jagr at the right wing. With Aaron Ward just out of the box, Jagr one-timed a pass to an open Prucha on the doorstep. It was Prucha's fourth of the season and first in seven games since a similar PPG in a win over New Jersey two weeks ago.
Through two periods, the Rangers outshot Carolina 24-16. Ironically, the total was 24-17 Rangers thru two the other night. Only this time the Rangers were up two instead of down and deservedly so.
When Jagr somehow slipped a pass over Ward's stick to setup Michal Rozsival for another PP tally and first as a Ranger, it put them up 4-1 with 10:50 remaining.
But Carolina didn't quit. Just 2:37 later off a faceoff win, Niklas Nordgren redirected a Mike Commodore shot from the point to cut it to 4-2 with 8:13 left.
Minutes later, Jed Ortmeyer had a chance to put the game out of reach but missed on a Dominic Moore feed off a two-on-none he created. It opened the door for the Canes to get closer. They did when Rozsival was whistled for interference with under three minutes left.
After Staal hit the crossbar with a wide open net, coach Peter Laviolette pulled Gerber for a six-on-four. Justin Williams rebounded a Frantisek Kaberle blast to cut the deficit to one with 1:26 to go. Despite a final frantic minute, the Rangers held on for the victory, which wasn't assured until a hustling Ortmeyer broke up a play and skated the puck out.
Notes: Against his ex-team, Weekes finished with 28 saves while Gerber turned aside 28 of 32. ... Rookie defenseman Fedor Tyutin sat out with a non-displaced left finger fracture and is listed as day-to-day. Jason Strudwick replaced him in the lineup. ... Fedor Fedorov cleared waivers and was designated for assignment to Hartford. ... Rangers recalled left wing Chad Wiseman. ... Rangers (12-7-3) take on Boston (7-8-5) Sunday night at 7:30 PM.