Monday, November 22, 2010

Mar--rttty makes it two in a row

They chanted Mar---rrtttyy, Mar---rrtttyy at the Garden tonight. Who says backups don't get love? Make it two in a row for Martin Biron. Indeed, the backup put on a show, making 31 saves in lifting the Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Flames for their second consecutive win.

In a 5-2 win over Minnesota, he got plenty of support. This time, Biron had little margin for error. The 33 year-old from Quebec was strong in netting his third straight victory on home ice. Amazingly, he has three of the five wins at MSG. Think Henrik Lundqvist is jealous? I don't think he cares as long they win and thankfully, John Tortorella made the right decision, giving his starter a couple of extra days to prepare for leading sniper Steven Stamkos, who added to his total with No.20 in Tampa's 21st game. Something tells us Henrik will be on his toes Wednesday in St. Pete.

While Lundqvist got another night off, he watched Biron stand tall against a gritty Calgary team intent on mixing it up with our guys. In the first, rookie defenseman Mike Sauer boarded Stefan Meyer from behind and immediately was challenged by Tom Kostopoulos. A few minutes after matching minors, the two squared off. It was the first of two scraps for Sauer, who also accepted Meyer's challenge and gave as good as he got. He later played another stellar game making some key defensive gems. In between the fisticuffs, the Rangers carried much of the play once leading in shots 8-1 before Calgary found their legs. The game remained scoreless after one.

Matt Gilroy gives kudos to Brian Boyle for his ninth goal.

Brian Boyle snapped the scoreless tie 2:08 into period two when his centering feed for Ruslan Fedotenko banked off Brendan Mikkelson and in past Miikka Kiprusoff. Defensive stalwart Dan Girardi started the play with a good defensive read forcing Calgary into a turnover. He then sprung Boyle and Fedotenko on a two-on-one. Boyle faked shot but his pass turned into goal No.9, ending a four-game drought. Coincidentally, the longest of the season. The look on Fedotenko said it all. That line with former Flame Brandon Prust was tremendous, getting pucks in deep while also being defensively responsible. The scrappy trio really have become a fixture. They all play physical and do little things that win.

Before the crowd could settle in, the Flames assumed control with their tenacious forecheck pinning our D in much of the second. However, it would be off a turnover in the offensive zone that led to Jarome Iginla staying hot, tying things up. The power forward who got off to such a miserable start entered with five goals in the last two including a hat trick in a rout over Detroit. He continued his tear when all three Ranger forwards got caught deep, including Ryan Callahan. Skating three-on-one, Jay Bouwmeester dished across for an Iginla layup, responding 3:08 later to Boyle's tally. Matt Stajan added a helper. Unfortunately, his night ended abruptly later courtesy of a clean Marc Staal hit.

With Calgary continuing to get chances off their cycle, Biron held the Blueshirts in making 10 saves to give his team a chance. The stanza turned when Callahan landed a thunderous check on Bouwmeester that drew the ire of Curtis Glencross. No stranger to rough stuff following last year's dangerous cheapshot that concussed Chris Drury at The Saddledome, he twice went after Callahan. It was the second dopey shenanigans where he crosschecked Cally high from behind that cost his team. Sure. He got two minutes but that was the kind of play that doesn't belong in the game. There was nothing wrong with Ryan's hit. Even Sean Avery had to answer for a similar hit before igniting a brawl against Edmonton. Remember when clean hits were respected? Not anymore.

Callahan, who simply was firing up his team, drew a penalty. On it, the Rangers took full advantage. Off a clean faceoff win (not a misprint) by emerging rookie Derek Stepan, Girardi stepped into a wrist shot which went off Kiprusoff and in for a power play goal. It was Girardi's first PPG and first goal in 19 games. Stepan's assist gives him six points over the last six games. When he came out of the box, Glencross warned to Callahan that it wasn't over. A punk move. He was probably just sulking because his stupidity wound up being the difference.

Nursing a one-goal lead, the Rangers played a spunky third against the feisty Flames who tried virtually everything to tie it. Biron was outstanding, stoning Iginla three separate times on the doorstep leading to chants of his name. The closest Calgary came was a dangerous sequence that saw Biron down and out after a couple of saves. But Brendan Morrison partially fanned on his shot hitting the side of the net to even more cheers. The Flames threw 15 shots at Biron and he got them all. When he wasn't busy, his teammates helped him out with solid defensive plays with both the D- particularly Steve Eminger- and forwards coming back to break up opportunities. The Blueshirts got their sticks in passing lanes and Eminger took a hard Iginla one-timer on a power play by laying out. He really has risen since Michal Rozsival went down.

The highlight of the third though came when Staal absolutely leveled Stajan drawing oooh's and ahhh's. After making a pass, Stajan didn't have his head up and Staal made him pay by coming across with a clean right shoulder knocking the former Leaf to the ice. Prust played peacemaker. The hit wasn't delivered with malicious intent. Staal made sure to direct it from in front and not the side. Not shockingly, Stajan didn't return. Hopefully, he'll be alright. On the next shift, Iginla ran Staal as the physicality increased. Considering that these two teams rarely see each other, there was plenty of intensity making for a chippy and entertaining affair. One of the better 2-1 games you'll see.

With less than nine minutes left, Tortorella sent out Derek Boogaard for one whale of a shift. He was looking to go with Tim Jackman and took and landed some heavy hits. With a buzz in the air, Jackman tried to sucker Boogey into taking a penalty but he only dropped his gloves before retrieving them and backing off. Very sensible by the big man who's gaining notoriety.

The Rangers came close to making it 3-1 but Callahan's wraparound was thwarted by a sliding Kipper. As the final couple of minutes hit, the crowd energized sensing the moment. Their heroes wouldn't break on this night, playing smart defensive hockey. In particular, Brandon Dubinsky helped seal it with some great work and one last break-up at the blueline made it official. A well earned 'W' on home ice.

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Jarome Iginla, Cgy (9th of season, 5 SOG, 4 hits, 6-2 draws, +1 in 21:50)
2nd Star-Dan Girardi, NYR (2nd of season-1st PPG, assist, 3 SOG, 2 hits, 3 blocked shots in 24:28)
1st Star-Martin Biron, NYR (31 saves incl. 15/15 in 3rd for 3rd home win, 5th of season)

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