New York Rangers Getting Hot at Right Time in Push for NHL Playoffs

Matthew CalamiaCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2011

Ryan Callahan celebrates after giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead in Pittsburgh
Ryan Callahan celebrates after giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead in PittsburghJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Rangers have been getting contributions from all four lines the entire season. Whether it is Brian Boyle's 21 goals from the fourth line, or Ryan Callahan's 22 on the second, the scoring as been coming throughout a lineup deprived of much pure talent.

It happened again Sunday night as the Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-2, for their fourth win in a row, something that hasn't happened all season. Five different Rangers scored in the win, including Callahan and Marian Gaborik.

The story following the game, though, was Matt Cooke's hit on rookie defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the third period that led to two Rangers goals. Cooke was given a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct.

After the Penguins scored a short-handed goal by Kris Kunitz, the Rangers (up two men thanks to a high stick from Matt Niskanen on Ryan Callahan that drew blood and four minutes) tied the game on a goal by Gaborik, who has been on fire the last handful of games, coming on at just the right time. Callahan, still bloodied from the high stick, scored just 11 seconds later to give the Rangers the 3-2 lead.

Derek Stepan added a goal off a rebound in front off a McDonagh shot, and Brandon Dubinsky cashed in on an empty-net goal in the dying moments of the game.

This was arguably the Rangers' best win of the season. They play a strong opening period and received yet another goal by second-year center Artem Anisimov, who is really coming into his own in the final block of the season. Jordan Staal tied the game on a breakaway minutes later.

The Penguins absolutely dominated the Rangers in the second period, thanks to the play of Henrik Lundqvist, who was questionable to start following Friday night's collision with Montreal Canadien Benoit Pouliot. He finished with 38 saves.

The Rangers, who were without top defenseman Marc Staal, cashed in on opportunities that were created off of hard work and strong forechecking—something that has become their trademark this season.

With the win, the Rangers give themselves more breathing room in the battle for the playoffs. They're currently six points up on ninth-place Carolina, and four points up on the Buffalo Sabres, who play later today against the Nashville Predators.