Before the game even began, the Rangers had a spot of good fortune: all three players that were injured (Marian Gaborik, Chris Higgins, and Sean Avery) and sat out the Minnesota game, returned to the lineup, giving New York their complete roster heading into an important conference matchup.
And the Rangers took care of business, defeating the Boston Bruins 1 - 0 on a goal by none-other than recovered sniper Gaborik.
Late in the second period, Gaborik snapped a one-timer from the high slot on a pass from Vinny Prospal that beat Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas on the glove side.
The goal was Gaborik's 11th in 13 games.
Prospal carried the offensive weight the past couple of games in Gaborik's absence.
“His work ethic is unbelievable. He is a great
playmaker," said Gaborik of Prospal. "He goes there and works hard. He sees the ice, you can
see that every night out there. He is looking to pass and he did
Work ethic has been a question of the team the past two weeks, as they have encountered stale outings against lower-ranked teams such as the New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild.
Praised for their work throughout training camp and early on in the season, the team seemed to hit a plateau that was only magnified in the absence of their star player in Gaborik.
However, the Rangers renewed some of their vitality against Boston, playing a smart defensive game with cleaner play in the neutral zone.
"[Boston] is a tough team to play against -- the way they play, how strong defensively they are, how they play in the neutral zone," said Massachusetts native Head Coach John Tortorella."I thought our decision making was good. I thought our grinding was better."
Slow starters Chris Drury, Chris Higgins, and Ryan Callahan also had an extra step in their stride as each was more involved with the play throughout the game.
Callahan got back to his "skate-first, ask questions later" style of play, while Drury continued to work hard on both ends of the ice, including blocking some tough shots from the point.
Higgins, while he still hasn't scored, worked hard and has become a more physical presence. His north-south style will eventually pay off in goals.
But not to be outdone, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist maintained the one-goal lead with a spectacular performance for his first shutout of the season.
While the game was back-and-forth for the first two periods, Boston picked their play up in the third period, swarming around the Rangers' crease looking for the tying goal.
Outshooting the Rangers 14 - 6 in the period, Boston had several scoring opportunities that were stymied by Lundqvist, particularly late in the period.
"Obviously [Lundqvist] was great for us in net," said Prospal. "He made some huge saves throughout the whole hockey game. We were able to score the goal and it proved to be the winner."
"They are a really good hockey team."
Following the game, the team took off on their first major road trip of the season, visiting the West Coast, beginning with a game tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks.