Gritty Rangers Scrap Their Way to First Win

The Rangers‘ first win under new coach David Quinn outlined the blueprint for the team going forward.

Down a goal in the final period against the high-powered Sharks, the Blueshirts stepped up their intensity after being outshot heavily in the first two stanzas. The stirring comeback began with the Rangers carrying the play, enjoying more time in San Jose’s zone and forcing the Sharks’ defenders to be back on their heels. After a couple of close calls, their persistence was finally rewarded with Brendan Smith‘s goal with 2:37 left in regulation.

Brady Skjei capped off the dramatic comeback in overtime with a goal from a tight angle 37 seconds into the extra session, as the defenseman roofed the puck past Sharks goalie Aaron Dell to seal the 3-2 win.

The Rangers simply refused to be beaten in the third period and managed to stay in the game long enough to gut out a win.

The 51-year old Quinn downplayed his emotions after recording his first victory as an NHL head coach and wanted to give credit to the players for their efforts.

“That was pretty special. I wish we could divide the puck up into about 45 pieces because that was a great win for us,” Quinn said. “We needed to feel good about [Thursday] – we needed to feel good about something.”

The win by the Rangers means that the Detroit Red Wings and the Florida Panthers remain as the only winless teams in the Eastern Conference. For much of the game, it looked like the Rangers might just open the season with four straight losses.

Quinn called it “reckless” hockey from the Rangers. He wasn’t happy with the play of the defense, saying that the errors began to pile up as the game wore on. But towards the end of the second period, he began to see improvement. If not for the heroics of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 41-of-43 shots on the night, the Rangers could have easily been winless heading into Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

By the time the third period rolled around, Quinn saw a team that was coming together on both ends of the ice.

Howden Shines Brightly

As has been the case repeatedly throughout his career, Lundqvist was massive for the Rangers. His saves steadied the team, even as they struggled in the opening two periods.

But the Blueshirts wouldn’t have been in a position to win the game were it not for Brett Howden. The rookie scored the team’s first goal in the first period and logged 17:34 time-on-ice, the second-most amongst the team’s forwards.

Quinn singled out special praise for the 20-year-old in his postgame comments.

“He’s impressed me since training camp started and the first time I met him. I’m not surprised by what he’s doing and how much confidence he’s gaining from game to game,” Quinn said.

“There’s no nonsense to his game on top of having great skill. That’s a big component of having success at this level. You can’t have any BS in your game and he doesn’t have any BS in his game. When you have that skill set and play fast and have a quick set of feet and hands, you’re going to do special things.

[Watch the Rangers in Matinee Action Saturday at 12:30 PM Against the Edmonton Oilers on MSG and MSG GO. Get the App Now.]

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.