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 Gaborik, Poor in Shootouts, Lifts Rangers With Winner

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PostSubyek: Gaborik, Poor in Shootouts, Lifts Rangers With Winner   Gaborik, Poor in Shootouts, Lifts Rangers With Winner Icon_minitimeFri Nov 04, 2011 1:48 pm

Marian Gaborik is one of the top goal scorers of his generation, with 288 goals in 651 career games, including 5 this season. But he is not very good at shootouts: he was 2 for 19, or 11 percent, in his career going into Thursday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] at Madison Square Garden.
Nevertheless, when the game came down to a shootout, Coach John Tortorella gave him the nod, and Gaborik scored what turned out to be the winner, as the Rangers beat the Ducks, 2-1.

Thanks to Gaborik’s shootout goal, the Rangers’ dressing room was full of life instead of the morgue it would have been had they lost against the road-weary, slumping Ducks.

“He’s been our best player this year,” Tortorella said, explaining why he went with Gaborik, despite his dreadful shootout statistics. “He’s ready to take the next step. I’m glad for him.”

Tortorella’s other two choices for the shootout were more logical: Erik Christensen (23 for 45 in his career, or 45 percent) and Brad Richards (25 for 62, 40 percent).

Christensen scored on Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller, and Richards was stopped before Gaborik scored on a backhand after a nifty fake. At the other end, Rangers goalie [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]Henrik Lundqvist stopped two of three Anaheim shooters, beaten only by the 41-year-old scoring ace Teemu Selanne. That avenged the Rangers’ 2-1 shootout loss to Anaheim at Stockholm last month.

“I’m happy I got the chance to go — my record isn’t good,” said Gaborik, who was terrific all night amid a thin Rangers attack. “I haven’t gone for quite a few games there, and the last time I was elected to go fourth, but I’m happy I got a chance, and I’m happy I scored.”

At first the Rangers seemed to cruise at the expense of a tired West Coast opponent for a second straight game. But it did not turn out to be quite so easy.

The Ducks were playing in the sixth game of a seven-game Eastern trip, and they seemed sluggish, as San Jose had in losing to the Rangers, 5-2, on Monday at the end of a six-game Eastern swing.

The Rangers outshot the Ducks by 10-2 in the first period, and it looked as if they would have no problem handing them their seventh loss in eight games. But by the third period the Rangers were being outshot, 15-4.

All the trouble they ran into probably means one thing: Sean Avery’s return to the lineup Saturday at the Garden against Montreal. Another factor that calls for Avery’s return: wing Wojtek Wolski left in the second period Thursday, having aggravated a groin strain that sidelined him last month.

The Rangers’ offense was provided almost entirely by Gaborik and Ryan Callahan, who between them took 13 of the Rangers’ 25 shots on goal.

But Hiller was brilliant, denying them both with at least four glove saves. Perhaps his best stop was a pad save to thwart Callahan on a shorthanded breakawa[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]y with less than 11 minutes left and the score tied, 1-1.

Bobby Ryan scored for Anaheim at 18 minutes 18 seconds of the second period.

The Rangers’ lone goal came from defenseman Jeff Woywitka, whose job suddenly became vulnerable only minutes before he scored at 17:32 of the first period.

Woywitka’s shot from the blue line nicked off an Anaheim forward and through Hiller’s pads. It was the first Rangers goal for Woywitka, a 28-year-old journeyman claimed off waivers from Montreal at the start of the season. He had scored only eight times in 256 previous games.

Not long before he scored, there were reports that the Rangers had signed the free agent Anton Stralman, another journeyman, to a one-year, $900,000 deal to bolster their thin defensive corps.

“Actually, I did know,” Woywitka said. “That’s good — it’s part of the business. I’m going to keep on going on.”[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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