Following one of their worst efforts at home in nearly nine years, fiery Rangers coach John Tortorella was adamant about the need for his club to start over.
After bouncing back quickly with a narrow win, New York is in position for a home-and-home sweep of the NHL’s worst team.
The Rangers head back to Madison Square Garden looking for a fourth consecutive victory there over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
On Wednesday, the Rangers were routed 6-0 by Philadelphia for their worst home shutout loss since falling to Detroit by the same score in March 2001.
Henrik Lundqvist(notes) faced 11 Flyers shots in the opening period, but New York trailed 3-0 at the break. Just 23 seconds after making his NHL debut in place of the Swedish Olympian to start the second period, Chad Johnson(notes) allowed the first of three goals by Simon Gagne(notes).
“We’re going to start over, and the best thing for us is to play another game right away,” an upset Tortorella said.
The Rangers (19-17-4) did that Thursday, beating the Hurricanes 2-1.
“It’s obvious we competed harder,” the coach said. “It was important not to lose two in a row, and I thought we answered well in all aspects of the game.”
Erik Christensen(notes) - elevated to the top line despite failing to record a point this season - provided a spark with a goal and assist. Brandon Dubinsky(notes) scored the tiebreaker in the third period, and Marian Gaborik(notes) assisted on both goals.
“The thing (Tortorella) was saying was that we had a good stretch and it’s OK to maybe come down a bit, but you can’t just plummet and have no effort at all,” said Christensen, who was claimed off waivers from Anaheim on Dec. 2. “The sign of a good team is that we came back and showed some character and I thought we played a good 60 minutes.”
Lundqvist was barely tested, making 17 saves to pick up his 17th win, but he’s played poorly at MSG for much of the last two months.
In his first seven games, Lundqvist was 5-1-0 with a 2.06 goals-against average and a shutout. In 12 games since, he’s 2-8-2 with a 3.00 GAA.
A three-time Vezina Trophy finalist, Lundqvist has won four of his last five home starts against the Hurricanes, allowing only nine goals.
“I don’t think the Rangers played a real tough game,” coach Paul Maurice said. “There wasn’t a lot of momentum to be had in the game either way. It was a slug from one end to the other.”
Eric Staal(notes), who was selected earlier in the week to represent Canada at the Olympics, had an assist. The Hurricanes’ leading scorer with 27 points, Staal has two goals and six assists in his last three games.
Carolina, which is 2-13-4 on the road, has lost five of six at MSG. The win came when Ward made 28 saves in a 4-0 shutout in December 2007.
Ward is 1-3-1 with a 2.54 GAA in six career road games against the Rangers.