Gaborik, Richards and Nash form a line to be reckoned with
by Michael Rappaport/Correspondent
Since the Rangers acquired Rick Nash last July, many pundits have anxiously waited to see how a line of Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik would perform together.
If Wednesday night was any indication of the trio’s capabilities as a unit, they are poised for a successful 2013 campaign.
Gaborik scored his first three goals of the young season, including the game-winner 27 seconds into overtime, and the Blueshirts defeated the Boston Bruins, 4-3, for their first victory of the year.
From the get-go, the Rangers controlled the action. A beautiful passing play between Michael Del Zotto, Richards and Nash led to a 2-on-1 break. Nash slid the puck across to Gaborik, who fired a wrist shot past Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask to give the Blueshirts a 1-0 lead.
Just over two minutes later, Rask made a save on Del Zotto’s shot from the right circle but couldn’t stop Gaborik’s rebound from entering the cage.
The contest became a tale of two games at the start of the second period. Right off the faceoff, Milan Lucic had a breakaway chance and drew a slashing penalty on Marc Staal.
On the ensuing power play, Brad Marchand redirected Dougie Hamilton’s attempt past Henrik Lundqvist to cut the Bruins’ deficit in half.
With less than eight minutes remaining in the middle frame, a sloppy line change by the Rangers resulted in a 4-on-2 break for Boston. Lundqvist made the initial save on Zdeno Chara’s shot but couldn’t freeze the puck before Lucic pounced on the rebound and slid the puck into the vacated net.
Despite the Bruins’ surge, the Blueshirts quickly stole the momentum. 46 seconds after Lucic’s tally, Taylor Pyatt scored his second goal in as many games, beating Rask with a backhand shot from in front of the net.
The Rangers had chances to extend the lead in the third period – including a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:17 – but Rask, who made 29 saves in the contest, kept the deficit at one.
New York’s squandered opportunities opened the door for Boston to get the equalizer, and Nathan Horton delivered it. As the teams skated four aside, Carl Hagelin deflected Gregory Campbell’s centering pass into the slot.
Horton retrieved the loose puck and fired a shot on Lundqvist. The reigning Vezina Trophy-winner, who finished with 26 saves, couldn’t close the pads quick enough to stop Horton’s shot.
In the extra session, Boston defenseman Andrew Ference couldn’t handle a bouncing puck at the Rangers blue line, allowing Gaborik to have a breakaway opportunity on Rask.
The Bruins’ goalie made a save on the initial shot, but the Slovakian sniper batted the puck out of mid-air into the back of the net.
Game Notes: Arron Asham missed the contest with a mild groin strain. Steve Eminger made his season debut, and played 6:06. Richards and Nash each recorded an assist on Gaborik’s first goal of the game. Both forwards have points in each of the Rangers’ first three games. The Rangers won just 17 out of 53 faceoffs.