Following last night's 3 - 2 loss at Pittsburgh, many were pondering whether this group had the offensive spark that was sorely missed last season.
Five goals later, it appears that offensive struggles may be a thing of the past.
"We scored some important goals," said Head Coach John Tortorella. "It's a work in progress, we have a lot of work to do, but I'm happy the way they stayed with it and found a way to win the hockey game."
The game had a physical edge at the onset as both teams played hard along the boards. The Rangers maintained their composure, not commiting a penalty throughout the period. Ottawa, however, were called for three penalties, including a hooking call on former Ranger Alex Kovalev.
The power play had better puck movement and more shots to the net. Both Vinny Prospal and Chris Higgins had power play opportunities that resulted in near-misses and hit posts.
"I thought our power play was very good tonight, from the break out right on through," said Tortorella. "But again you have to score goals."
The Rangers went 0-for-5 on the game.
Following a scoreless first period, Vinny Prospal scored his first goal as a Ranger at 3:20 on a 2-on1 break, roofing a wrist shot into the far corner.
"The defenseman gave me the shot, so I took it and hoped it went in," said Prospal jokingly. "I was very pleasantly surprised when it went in the net."
Prospal played along the left side of the top line with Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik, who also factored in the scoring. Dubinsky scored two goals and added an assist while Gaborik added a goal and assist of his own.
"I think we are moving the puck and moving ourselves, and without the holding and grabbing, it's tougher to stop in the offensive zone if you are quicker than the defensive guys" said Prospal.
"We have opportunities and we have to continue and capitalize on our chances," said Dubinsky. "The offense and the attack that we have, we're going to score more goals."
Dubinsky, who leads the team with four points through the first two
games, has shown more fire on the ice, something that hasn't gone
unnoticed. Tortorella felt that the trio wasn't just the top scoring line, but
also one of the hardest working. A major part of that has been the
energy and ethic of Dubinsky.
"I think [Dubinsky] wants to prove that he's worth what he did, and that's not a bad thing," said Tortorella. "He has a different look about him, even when he isn't playing, how he's handling himself...He's playing well"
Gaborik is also playing up to a major offseason contract. The new right winger has three points in two games and has felt very comfortable in his new surroundings.
"We seem to understand each other well out there," said Gaborik. "Dubi is strong on the puck and as he's carrying the puck through the neutral zone, I am trying to get open. We're good down low behind their goal line."
The line accounted for four of the Rangers five goals.
Lost in the offensive shuffle was the play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. After a solid first game last night, Lundqvist turned aside 32 shots, including 19 in an Ottawa-heavy second period.
The oddman rushes however, continue to be a problem and while Lundqvist was able to turn most aside tonight, it is something that Tortorella recognizes must change.
"We need to button up some things along the way here," said Tortorella. "We're giving up too many chances against, but those are correctable things."
The Rangers are in New Jersey Monday night to take on the Devils in their first Atlantic Division game of the season.
Check out Blueshirt Bulletin Plus tomorrow for postgame audio and our exclusive podcast.
- Rookie Mike Del Zotto scored his first-ever NHL goal tonight in the second period on a low shot from the point to the opposite post. "It's unbelieveable. You always dream about it, but when it happens, it's bigger. It was the greatest moment of my life. Words can't describe it."
- The Three Stars - DelZotto, Lundqvist, and Dubinsky.
- Sean Avery, still nursing a knee injury, may play Monday night, but unlikely.