The Rangers fell to New Jersey 4-2. (With the last goal an empty netter.) The Devils controlled the first period, scoring two goals. The first off of great passing, and a misplaced Girardi. The second a beautiful deflection after Staal was caught out of position. Not a good period for the top defense pairing. The Rangers then played their best second period of the season scoring two of their own to tie the game. Gaborik, as usual, with Brodeur being screened by Callahan (who was playing with the flu) and then a beautiful shot by Kotalik off a long pass from Girardi. The third period saw just one goal scored, and it was a bad one let in by Lundqvist, even if it was deflected just before it reached him. He even admitted as much after the game.
Not a horrible loss — certainly not the drubbing experienced in the San Jose game — but a loss nonetheless. While at times certain players exhibited effort, overall it was a lackluster performance against a rival that the Rangers should beat. Especially bad were Staal and Girardi. When asked after the game to describe Girardi’s performance Tortorella responded “average.” Very accurate. Both for him and for the rest of the team.
One thing I liked for this game, but have a feeling I will not long-term, was Tortorella’s decision to juggle the lines to start the second period. I generally do not like shuffling lines that are working game-to-game (i.e., the Gaborik-Dubinsky-Prospal line). But I cannot argue with the results since it did give the team a boost in this game. I do hope that Torts reunites the top line however. Continuity will only help their growth. I’m all for mixing up the other lines, as none have been up to par this year.
Brashear sat out a second game this year with “soreness.” Not a big loss. The only fight, in fact, the only real skirmish in this usually heated rivalry, was Mottau unexpectedly starting a fight after a clean hit by Avery.