Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sykora Shoots Down Bruins

It wasn't a memorable effort for the Rangers but they'll take it. Petr Sykora's shootout goal in the sixth round allowed them to escape Boston (18-21-8) with a 3-2 victory at TD Banknorth Garden Saturday night. It was the Rangers' second consecutive win, which gave them to finish .500 on a four-game road trip.

They overcame a lack of discipline in more ways than one to steal two points against a quicker and hungrier opponent. Having blown a two-goal lead in the second, the Blueshirts were on their heels most of the third period. Some of it was due to an aggressive Boston forecheck. But also, some lazy turnovers in their end along with two penalties to rookie Petr Prucha put them on the defensive, forcing Henrik Lundqvist to make some tough saves. Strong throughout in his second straight start, the Swedish sensation stopped all nine Boston shots plus two more in overtime to force a shootout. Lundqvist finished with 29 saves to give his team a chance.

In their first shootout since Marek Malik's highlight reel goal which ended the longest ever SO this season in the 15th round on November 26, New York improved to 4-1. Boston dropped to 0-4.

Much like the game, it didn't come easy. Staked to a 1-0 lead in Round One on a Jaromir Jagr forehand deke against Tim Thomas, Thomas denied Petr Prucha to give Boston one final chance. Patrice Bergeron forced sudden death when he opened up Lundqvist's five-hole. With Thomas stopping Martin Rucinsky and Martin Straka, Lundqvist repelled P.J. Axelsson and Ben Walter's attempts to win it. That's when Sykora scored when he flipped a backhand top shelf. Brad Isbister's shot was padded away by Lundqvist to give the Rangers a much needed two points in a tightening playoff race. They tied Buffalo for fourth in the East and still lead the red hot Devils by six points heading into a pivotal match-up later tonight at The Garden.

Jason Ward scored his seventh goal of the season to put the Rangers ahead 7:27 into the first. Off a Boston turnover, Nylander intercepted a puck at the blueline and then fed Ward down low, who tucked the puck around Thomas.

In the second, Sykora increased it to 2-0 at 2:39 when he put home a Ville Nieminen rebound. But the Bruins rallied to tie it, scoring twice 4:11 apart. Off a Ranger turnover, Marco Sturm stuffed home a shot past Lundqvist to cut it to one. Then, two unnecessary penalties 15 seconds apart allowed Boston to draw even. After they were assessed a bench minor for too many men, Marek Malik was sent off for tripping. Brad Stuart capitalized when he one-timed a Brad Boyes feed past Lundqvist.

The Bruins came close to winning it late in regulation off a Lundqvist turnover. After playing a puck, Lundqvist was caught out of his net but Bergeron's one-timer was blocked by a sliding Fedor Tyutin to save the game. Tyutin suffered a laceration but returned after being stitched up.

Thomas turned aside 27 of 29 shots.

Notes: Darius Kasparaitis returned after missing three games due to a sprained knee. He replaced Thomas Pock, who was sent back down to Hartford. ... Marcel Hossa left the game in the first after being hit with a puck. His status is unknown for tonight. ... Ex-Ranger Brian Leetch sat out with an injury. ... Rangers (27-14-7, 61 points) host the Devils (25-18-5, 55 points) Sunday night at 7 PM. Devils are a perfect 9-0 in 2006. New York leads the season series 3-1-1.


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