Apparently hockey games can be won on the strength of special teams, and revenge is a family affair. The Rangers scored all of their 5 goals on this night while playing either on the powerplay or shorthanded. Their powerplay scored 4 goals on only 5 opportunities and they also scored while shorthanded thus nulifying the effects of a second period powerplay goal by the Whalers. Infact their penalty kill had a strong night as well allowing only one goal on nine opportunities, though one of those powerplays did only last 1.3 seconds at the tail end of the game. In the absence of Michael Richards, top pivot Evan McGrath went about scoring 3 points (all assists relatively quietly) while under intense checking. David Clarkson scored a pair of powerplay goals and originally was awarded a third goal to complete the hattrick, the goal was later changed to Mike Duco upon further review. After taking a scary hit from Tim Sestito that had Valabik miss the better part of a month with a concussion, early in the first period Boris Valabik took some liberties with his much bigger brother who was taken apart quite litterally by the big Rangers' blueliner. Later in the period Valabik took some shots at the senior brother.
The Rangers got out to a quick start, on their
first powerplay at the 7 minute mark Matt Lashoff blasted a slapper from
the point that snuck just inside the post stick-side. Seconds later,
the game seemed to tumble out of control, Boris Valabik hit Tom Sestito
into the Rangers' bench, Sestito replied with a headlock on the Rangers'
defender, soon the gloves were off, but the younger Sestito proved to be
little challenge for Valabik who landed a series of hard body shots before
landing a huge uppercut on Sestito as the two went down into the ice.
Only 7 seconds later Adam Keefe and Vaclav Meidl had their gloves off and
were exchanging punches, highlighted by a near knockout punch by Adam Keefe
that found it's mark nearing the end of the fight. Surprisingly cooler
heads would prevail after these events, though the chippy play from the
two teams who have now locked horns in two consecutive years during the
postseason, continued. Dan Turple came up with a big glove stop and
good toe save to keep the Whalers off of the board in the first period.
In the second period the Whalers got back on even terms when Dan Collins' quick shot found it's way just inside the post stick side, on the powerplay very similar to Lashoff's goal, but Collins wasn't stadning as close to the blueline. The goal occured on the front end of a four-minute high-sticking minor, fortunately they were not able to capitalize on the second half of the powerplay to take the lead. The Rangers took to the powerplay minutes after the second minor to Henderson had expired and David Clarkson was operating out of his office directly infront of the net, and deflected an Andre Benoit point shot into the back of the net regaining the lead for the Rangers. The turning point of the game may have come late in the second period. Patrick Davis burst in shorthanded with the puck, he took a bad angle shot that was deflected into the air or juggled if you will by Ryan Nie in his glove hand. Craig Voakes followed up with a baseball like hack at the puck while in midair giving the Rangers a commanding 3-1 lead.
David Clarkson scored back-breaker goal early in the third period again while on powerplay, took a Mike Duco rebound sending the puck into the back of the net, a garbage goal, his team-leading 25th of the season. The Whalers did score the only regular-strength goal of the game midway through the third period John Mitchell fired the puck off of the post, and on the rebound Tom Sestito potted his first OHL goal. The Rangers replied with their 4th powerplay goal of the game only minutes later when Mike Duco collected his own rebound beating Ryan Nie shortside. David Clarkson was in the vicinity of the crease for all 4 Rangers' powerplay goals, after the first goal he was slammed into the ice by the Whalers. Kevin Henderson was a bright spot for the Rangers, the rugged winger didn't get any points but was extremely effective on the penalty kill and may have had his best outing as a Ranger. Justin Azevedo (concussion), Michael Richards (Groin) and Matt Pepe (Groin) all continue to be out injured. Patrick Davis returned after recovering from an knee injury.