Rangers Make It Four Before Christmas

Matthew CalamiaCorrespondent IDecember 24, 2009

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 23:  Vinny Prospal #20 of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal against the Florida Panthers on  December 23, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

For the first time since they took care of the Columbus Blue Jackets days before Thanksgiving, the Rangers were able to win a game on home ice, after dropping five in a row (0-4-1). And for the first time since possibly their 7-1 start, they played a complete 60 minutes.

The Rangers were able to stretch their win-streak to four games in convincing fashion following a 4-1 victory against the Florida Panthers Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Henrik Lundqvist, as usual, played superb, allowing just one just one goal to Victor Oreskovich, who buried the rebound off a Dominic Moore shot that squirted through Michael Roszvial's skates.

Lundqvist would deny all 33 shots he'd face in the final 55 minutes. He has held opponents to two goals or less in nine of the the past ten games.

"He has been our backbone all year," said Ryan Callahan of Lundqvist. "He comes up with some key stops tonight."

Just over two minutes later, Enver Lisin's hustle to negate an icing, led to a one-time shot from the top of the faceoff circle from Chris Drury, who netted his third goal in four games after being demoted to the 4th line last week on Long Island.

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The score remained tied at one until 4:55 of the second period, when Vinny Prospal snapped a 14-game scoring slump on the power-play, snapping home a loose puck passed Thomas Vokun.

Prospal didn't stop there. Just 23 seconds into the third, he wristed a feed from Brandon Dubinsky for his second of the night.

When asked about his scoring drought and his two-goal performance, Prospal said "You ask any hockey player, it's streaky. Cally has been hot, now Drury's scoring and Gabby (Marian Gaborik scored again.) There's other guys who can get going, too."

As Prospal stated, Gaborik tallied his league-leading 26th goal last night, this time shorthanded, after Drury's hardwork drew a penalty. He was able to push the puck ahead to Gaborik for a breakaway, who slid the puck five-hole to seal the deal and send the players and fans home for the holidays with a win.

The win moves the Rangers into 8th in the conference, just four points out of 5th. More importantly, they were able to have a strong game on home ice, which coach John Tortorella said is crucial if they are to do anything down the stretch.

"You are just not going to get where you want to be if you don't establish yourself at home," he said. "I thought we did it the right way tonight. We have quite a few home games coming up here. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction."

(All quotes courtesy of Steve Zipay's Blue Notes blog on Newsday.com)


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