Trade-deadline acquisition Martin St. Louis finally scored his first goal as a New York Ranger as the Blueshirts toppled the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 Tuesday night in the clubs’ first meeting at Rogers Arena since coaches John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault swapped places behind the bench this summer.
St. Louis’ short-handed marker, his 30th goal of the season, was his first in 15 games as a Ranger. He tallied in the third period to give the Rangers a two-goal lead.
The Rangers have now won seven of their last eight games. Tuesday night’s victory provided them a three-point lead against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Metropolitan Division standings.
As it stands, the Rangers would host the Flyers in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs if they began tomorrow.
Things got nasty at the end of the game when Alex Burrows crushed Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh into the glass with less than a minute remaining. Burrows earned a match penalty on the play, but could he be due for some supplementary discipline? McDonagh stayed down after the hit before leaving the ice while appearing to favor his left arm.
Different personnel, same results: Even though Vigneault tinkered with what has been a sensational fourth line -- inserting Daniel Carcillo while moving veteran center Dominic Moore up -- he still got the desired effects. Carcillo tallied the game’s first goal just 4:59 into play. The team’s recent success has been fueled by that sort of well-balanced contribution.
Questions abound: As Tortorella eloquently stated on Monday -- he said people view him as the “idiot” in the Rangers-Canucks coaching swap -- his time in Vancouver has not gone so well. Following a strong start, Vancouver plummeted down the standings midway through the season. And of course the lasting image of the fiery coach’s disappointing first season was him charging at Calgary Flames’ coach Bob Hartley in the team’s hallway during a game. With the poor results and the controversy Tortorella never seems to be able to shake, speculation about whether he’ll last beyond this year has been rampant. Though Tortorella has four years remaining on a five-year deal, questions remain about whether he or general manager Mike Gillis will return next season.
What could’ve been: Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler was one Canuck that was terrific in Tuesday’s game, scoring Vancouver's lone goal against Henrik Lundqvist. The talented center could be the most coveted player on the trade block this summer if he is indeed in play. His name surfaced prior to the deadline and the Rangers had legitimate interest, though Kesler declined to waive his no-trade clause for New York.
Up next: The Rangers wrap up a four-game road trip with a stop in Denver Thursday night for a match against the league’s most captivating Cinderella team of the season, the Colorado Avalanche. Under rookie head coach Patrick Roy, who appears to be the front-runner for the Jack Adams Award, the Avs have won four straight games to build a three-point lead on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division race.