Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rangers Are Predators In Nashville

Does anyone still think the Rangers aren't for real? Try telling that to the Predators (18-5-3) who the Blueshirts convincingly beat 5-1 at The Gaylord Entertainment Center Thursday night. The Predators entered play 13-2-0 at home and with just four losses in regulation all season. The Rangers apparently never got the message.

A night removed from going 0-for-nine on the power play in a 2-1 loss to Chicago, the Rangers took a page from the Blackhawks by killing off all eight Nashville man-advantages. Undisciplined in the first, they gave Nashville five chances to capitalize a man up including a one minute five-on-three in the game's opening two minutes. But despite those circumstances, the Ranger penalty killing unit shined- keeping Nashville's dangerous PP unit in check. The Preds had scored a PPG in a franchise best 11 straight before Thursday.

After killing off the first three, Jaromir Jagr took matters into his own hands, beating Tomas Vokoun on a backhand wraparound for his 22nd goal of the season at 12:31- snapping a five-game goal drought.

Shorthanded again, a key play by Jed Ortmeyer helped spark the club. With Ortmeyer hobbled due to an earlier blocked shot, he got in the path of a Marek Zidlicky one-timer to help kill another penalty. The inspirational effort summed up the league's number two ranked PK.

When Petr Prucha stepped out of the box after the Rangers' fifth successive kill, Jagr sprung him for a breakaway. On fire lately, Petr The Great deked Vokoun to the backhand, giving the Rangers a two-goal lead with 31 seconds left in the period. It extended Prucha's goalscoring streak to four (6 in last 4). He wasn't done- adding his 12th tally in the second to rank fourth among rookies (Ovechkin-17, Crosby-13, Svatos-13). Unfortunately for Nashville, Vokoun's night was over due to a right knee sprain.

With backup Chris Mason in, it didn't take long for the Rangers to blow it open. Off a dominant shift by Jagr, he setup Steve Rucchin on the doorstep 2:11 in. It was Rucchin's first goal since November 12th. Coincidentally, he scored twice in that 6-1 win at Pittsburgh. After Prucha one-timed a Michael Nylander feed past Mason, Rucchin had another two-goal game on a redirect of a Marek Malik shot to put the Rangers up 5-0.

With Henrik Lundqvist solid in net making 30 saves, including a highlight reel glove stop of a Paul Kariya shot with Nashville down 5-1 in the third, the Rangers cruised to their eighth win in 10 (8-1-1).

Notes: To sum up how bad the night was for Nashville, they also lost center David Legwand to a left leg injury in the second. His leg accidentally collided with Blair Betts during a power play. Legwand was helped off the ice and on crutches after the game. ... Center Martin Straka left the game in the third due to a cut. ... With a goal and two assists, Jagr retook the NHL scoring lead (22-24-46). ... Rangers (19-8-4) conclude their three-game trip at St. Louis (5-17-3) Saturday.

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