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Rangers weak on finish, but defeat Spitfires

Brian Soso cannot coral a puck during the first period and is denied a career-high 10th goal of the season.

After losing a pair of heartbreakers early in the season to the Spitfires, the Rangers weren't exactly about to let one get away on this afternoon - or were they?  The Rangers started their top netminder: John Murray and iced a complete lineup with the exception of Victor Oreskovich and Steve Downie who are out with long term injuries and suspensions respectively.  Windsor fans were disappointed not to see Downie in uniform while in Windsor, perhaps in some way the Spitfires, at this point in the season having nothing to play for may have been a little disappointed themselves in missing their team's former leader.  After unloading many of their star players at the trade deadline, including former Ranger: Craig Voakes who was dispatched to the Sting.  Perhaps the Spitfires were more in a mode of looking forward and not backwards on this night anyhow.  It would appear that the Spitfires did not particularly enjoy the humiliation that they endured at the hands of the Rangers infront of their own fans in Windsor.

After scoring his 30th goal of the season in London earlier in the week, Matt Halischuk elected to celebrate on this afternoon with a dominant effort against the Windsor Spitfires.  Halischuk didn't waste time scoring early in the first tipping a Yannick Weber point shot past big netminder: Andrew Engelage.  Brian Soso, one of seemingly many former Spitfires products wearing the Rangers' jersey nearly upped his goal total early on as well.  Brian Soso scored his first of the season in a return visit to Windsor in the late fall.  Early in the second period, it appeared as if the Rangers were taking it easy on the Spitfires.  They were on their heals and had a shot juggled by John Murray which just barely cleared the crossbar drifting over the net while the Spitfires had pressure, that opportunity resulted in a Spitfires' powerplay one that saw rookie: Scott Timmins and Matt Halischuk work a picture-perfect two-on-one, where Timmins threaded the needle and though Halischuk didn't get all of the puck he got enough on it to beat Engelage who was sliding over to cut off the long side of the goal.

Kevin Henderson gets a little too close to Andrew Engelage during the third period.

The Spitfires would finally break the shutout late in the middle frame.  Mark Cundari spun off of the boards and proceeded in towards the net coaxing the Rangers' blueliners into buying a pass and patiently getting Murray to drop to his knees before beating the Rangers' netminder with a wrist shot over the shoulder that put the Spitfires on the board and cut the Rangers' lead in half.  The Rangers responded well.  Matt Halischuk, still holding the hot hand broke out of the zone quickly, utilized Nazem Kadri, who snapped a wrister that Engelage could not handle cleanly.  Kevin Henderson simply lunged himself as quickly as his could into the puck which he deflected into the vacated portion of the net just before the rookie Spitfires' netminder could recover.  The crowd got a good rise out of Matt Halischuk's third goal of the game, knocking in a rebound, a well-deserved goal for easily the hardest working Rangers on this night.

The 3-goal bulge appeared to be all that the Rangers needed, but things started getting scary late in the game.  Bradley Snetsinger, who's one of those players who seems to always have the Rangers' number scored halfway through the third period, beating Murray through the five-hole on a rebound from a point shot.  This time the Rangers didn't reply as they did quickly after the Spitfires' 1st goal of the game.  Though the Rangers had a two goal lead in the third, it was all but safe because the Rangers found themselves in penalty trouble.  It started with a double-minor for checking-from-behind to Jakub Kindl and then with just under two minutes left on the clock a tripping call on Kevin Henderson, who might have been guilty of being a little too aggressive on the penalty kill in the offensive zone.  A scenario presented itself where the Rangers could be scored upon and then immediately afterwards still be down two men (or with the Spitfires' netminder on the bench, down three men).  The Rangers got the kill of the critical first penalty but with time almost up and playing 6 skaters to 3, the Spitfires found Snetsinger all alone in front who scored just prior to the red light.  The game was called and the goal allowed.  It was a strong finish for the Spitfires who, just one night earlier blew a 4-1 lead, allowing 8 unanswered goals.