Gaborik Shakes Off Lackluster Regulation, Lifts Rangers Over Ducks In Shootout
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NEW YORK (AP) — Both Marian Gaborik and Rangers coach John Tortorella know the star forward isn’t much of a shootout player.
Neither one cared when New York finished overtime tied with the Anaheim Ducks.
With a stuttery head fake and a little shimmy, Gaborik fooled Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller and tucked the puck behind him in the final round of a shootout to give the Rangers a 2-1 win over Anaheim on Thursday night.
“I’m happy I got a chance to go. My record isn’t that good,” said Gaborik, who improved to 3 for 20 on career shootouts. “I had my move before I went. I tried to fake a move before I shot and it worked out well. Before I went to shoot, I tried to make up my mind, and I looked at him, and he was kind of challenging me a bit.”
Henrik Lundqvist stopped Bobby Ryan after Gaborik’s nifty goal and then pumped his fist as the crowd roared. The result was the mirror image of the Rangers’ 2-1 shootout loss in Stockholm last month. Ryan scored the shootout winner then.
“When you see points slip away and you let games get away when you could have been the difference, it’s extremely frustrating,” Ryan said.
On Thursday, he scored the tying goal late in the second period after Jeff Woywitka put New York up with his first Rangers goal, late in the first.
Gaborik assisted, but otherwise had nothing to show for his efforts despite two excellent power-play scoring chances and seven shots.
“We held onto the puck in their zone and had quite a few chances, so we’re happy overall that it worked out,” Gaborik said. “In the first period, we had a lot of shots, but slowed down in the second period. But we picked it up again.”
The Rangers, who have earned points in six of eight games (5-2-1), had chances in overtime, perhaps none bigger than when defenseman Ryan McDonagh fired wide from the doorstep in the wild final minute. Hiller had made a strong glove save on Ruslan Fedotenko from in close.
Lundqvist made several key stops in the final 10 minutes of regulation, as the Ducks furiously hunted for a winning goal. They have lost seven of eight (1-4-3).
“I thought we played pretty well in the first half,” Tortorella said. “In the third period, they picked it up. Hank was excellent.”
Asked why he chose Gaborik for the shootout, Tortorella said: “He’s been our best player this year.”
Someone tried to diplomatically point out that shootouts haven’t been kind to Gaborik, but Tortorella cut that off, saying “2 for 19.”
Then he grinned.
“He’s ready to take the next step,” Tortorella said. “I hope it helps him, because he’s been our most consistent player offensively.”
Hiller made most of his big saves early. The Ducks outshot New York 26-15 from the second period on after the Rangers had a 10-2 edge in the first.
“He made some real big stops,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “I think the first period, he kept us alive and we only gave up the one goal.”
Midway through the third, Ryan Callahan broke in all alone on a short-handed breakaway, but Hiller stayed with him and stopped a soft wrist shot with his left pad.
After outplaying the Ducks for most of two periods, the Rangers started to fray. A period of ragged defending and a giveaway on a mishandled centering pass in the Ducks zone helped set up Ryan’s tying goal at 18:18 of the second. He scored over Lundqvist’s shoulder on the Ducks’ 12th shot.
About 90 seconds later, Michael Del Zotto went off for hooking, and fellow Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi was hit in the head by a puck with a second remaining before the intermission. But the Rangers remained in a tie.
Gaborik’s second-period shot on the power play trickled past everyone, and the post, too. In the first, Hiller slid left and stopped him on a close-in attempt with his left pad.
“Hiller is good,” Lundqvist said. “He’s a good one-on-one goalie. He’s quick side-to-side.”
The game was scoreless until Woywitka was left alone for a slap shot that trickled past Hiller at 17:32. As soon as the puck was dropped following the goal, Anaheim’s George Parros and New York’s Andre Deveaux fought in front of the benches.
The Rangers failed to produce on a 4-on-3 power play less than a minute later. Hiller made a glove save on a slap shot, then later slid to his left as Gaborik sped past the goal mouth to prevent the Rangers from going up 2-0.
Three minutes into the game, fans chanted for Sean Avery, even though the forward was scratched from the lineup after he cleared re-entry waivers and was recalled by the Rangers from Connecticut of the AHL.
NOTES: Rangers F Wojtek Wolski left during the first period and didn’t return because of a recurring groin injury that sidelined him earlier this season. … Anaheim has one more stop on its seven-game road trip, a visit to Detroit. … The Rangers are 5-2-1 since starting 0-1-2. … Teemu Selanne scored for the Ducks in the shootout and Erik Christensen scored New York’s other goal in the tiebreaker.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)