Not surprisingly, the big Atlantic match-up between the Rangers and Flyers needed extra time to decide who would get the two points. That it required a shootout also wasn’t very startling as neither team could get the kind of opportunity necessary to win it in OT.
Courtesy of shootout tallies from Brendan Shanahan and rookie Nigel Dawes, the Blueshirts prevailed 2-0 in the skills competition to take the game 5-4- notching their fourth win in a row and improving to 7-0-2 in the last nine.
Backup goalie Stephen Valiquette came on in relief of Henrik Lundqvist and was sharp repelling 17 of 18 Flyer shots to improve to 3-0 against them this season. In his previous couple of wins, he permitted zilch. Today, the Flyers’ best forward on the day Jeff Carter solved him by chipping a backhand on the doorstep for his second of the day (23rd overall) with 8:11 remaining in regulation.
The Rangers outshot the Flyers 3-2 in a closely fought overtime sending the crucial contest to the shootout. It wouldn’t take long to decide. Though Martin Biron was razor sharp in relief of an ineffective Antero Niittymaki stopping all 21 Ranger shots he saw, the same couldn’t be said for the skills comp.
Last time it was Shanahan and Chris Drury who victimized the former Buffalo netminder in Philly. This time around, the 39 year-old Shanny again beat him by patiently waiting before ripping one top shelf past Biron’s glove.
Flyer defenseman Kimmo Timonen’s forehand deke try was poked away by a diving Valiquette. Then Tom Renney opted for Dawes, who was previously 0-for-1 in an eventual SO win over the Devils. The improving 23 year-old Manitoban didn’t disappoint faking before tucking a backhand through Biron’s five-hole to give the Rangers a commanding 2-0 lead.
Carter had been money all day but this time, his shot rang off the post and stayed out allowing the Rangers to come out on the ice and congratulate Valiquette.
The win temporarily pulled the team within four of division leader New Jersey. If the Pens win against the Thrashers, they’ll have 81 points and move out in front. They were leading 2-1 at last check in the second.
3rd Star-Stephen Valiquette, NYR (17 saves in relief)
2nd Star-Brendan Shanahan, NYR (assist, shootout winner)
1st Star- Jeff Carter, Phi (2 goals in 23:10 TOI)