After a 3-0 shutout loss to the Ottawa Senators, the New York Rangers rebounded in style to be on the other side of that statistic: winning 3-0 in a shutout versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella had a clear message for his players after losing to the hot Senators:
"We talked about it immediately after the Ottawa game, and in two or three other meetings before this game—about playing the way we're supposed to play."
Tortorella continued, "Being physical—it's a big part of our game, that's the way we have to play, we are not a talented enough, we are not a good enough team if we don't play the way we're supposed to play...it's our responsibility to continue to play that way."
The Rangers dominated all aspects of the game against the Maple Leafs, but thanks in large part to Derek Stepan and Martin Biron. Biron was credited with 20 saves and one assist to earn his second shutout of the season. Biron is now 9-2-0 this season with a stellar .927 save percentage and 1.88 goals-against average.
The Rangers' offensive scoring started early in the second period with a beautiful three-on-one odd-man rush. Stepan, Wojtek Wolski and Mike Rupp had a beautiful give-and-go that finished with Rupp burying the puck in the net just outside the crease. The play forced the Maple Leafs' netminder Jonas Gustavsson to cover too much of the net, and he wasn't able to follow through.
Rupp's game-winning goal would be his fourth of the season. Rupp has had a strong comeback since returning from knee surgery in December—most notably for his two goals against the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2012 Winter Classic.
The assist from Wolski marked his first point since returning from sports-hernia surgery. Wolski has played his second consecutive game for the Rangers, taking the place of injured Brandon Dubinsky.
Dubinsky is still suffering a sore shoulder since he was checked into the boards against the Phoenix Coyotes on Jan. 10.
Brian Boyle notched his third goal of the season at 3:32 remaining in the second after a setup from Brandon Prust. Boyle shot the puck above the circle near the boards through traffic to beat Gustavsson, giving the Rangers a commanding 2-0 lead.
Finally, Stepan earned his 10th goal of the season after Biron gave a long pass to Carl Hagelin, who rushed the puck through the neutral zone and fired a pass to Stepan. Stepan rushed into the crease of Gustavsson for a quick deke and buried the puck in the net.
Biron was credited with the assist.
The Rangers' tight defensive efforts gave Biron an easier night in net, facing only 12 shots in 40 minutes. But Biron made several brilliant saves to preserve the win, facing rebound chances and one spectacular diving leg-pad save late in the third period.
Biron had high praise for his teammates defensive contributions: "The first period, there was no shots for the longest time, it was that kind of game. Torts wanted us to play really tight defensively and I think we did that and it was the key for us.”
After a night off, Henrik Lundqvist will start Sunday when the Rangers take on the Montreal Canadiens. The Rangers have improved to 28-10-4, leading the league with 60 points.