Published March 13, 2011
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Brandon Dubinsky scored the winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout, lifting the New York Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
Wojtek Wolski scored the only other goal in the shootout for the Rangers, who rode 31 saves by Henrik Lundqvist through overtime for a thrilling road win. They are alone in seventh in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Buffalo and four over ninth-place Carolina. The Sabres and Hurricanes both lost Saturday.
Wolski extended the shootout to extra rounds when he kept the Rangers alive by scoring in the third.
Ryan Clowe and Ben Eager each had a goal, and Dan Boyle scored the lone goal in the shootout for the Sharks, who finished a six-game homestand with two consecutive shootout losses. San Jose also was beaten by NHL-leading Vancouver on Thursday.
New York closed this one in dramatic fashion, too.
Lundqvist had a series of saves in the final minute of the third period and overtime, and he didn't disappoint in the shootout. He allowed only Boyle's backhanded wrister to beat him after he lost his goalie stick.
Dubinsky zipped a wrister past Antti Niemi's stick as he tried to cover the net, touching off a celebrating at center ice. The Rangers played physical throughout, much like a team trying to make a playing push, after a lackluster 5-2 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday.
New York needed every bit of effort to pull out this win.
Clowe gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead in the first period on a slap shot from the right side, a drive that deflected off Rangers defenseman Marc Staal and got past Lundqvist's glove for a power-play goal. Clowe tied his career high with his 22nd goal, matching his total of the 2008-09 season.
Seconds later, Logan Couture was called for goaltender interference on Lundqvist, setting off a 10-man scrum with a series of pushes and punches that went unpenalized. San Jose killed off the power play, but Erik Christensen took a pass from Vinny Prospal behind the net a few minutes later and beat Niemi stick side to tie it.
The end-to-end action never relented.
After Clowe shattered his stick in a scramble for the puck, Michael Sauer sent a slap shot past Clowe's defenseless body and into the back of the net to put New York ahead 2-1. The Rangers almost took a two-goal advantage when Derek Stepan slipped the puck through Niemi's legs, but Justin Braun swooped in to swipe the puck away just before it crossed the goal line.
That save swung the momentum back to the Sharks, who pushed up ice and peppered shots at Lundqvist. They sneaked one through to make it 2-2 moments later, when Eager redirected Torrey Mitchell's shot for a goal.
Niemi got a boost from his defense that held the Rangers to only five shots in the third period and overtime. He finished with 20 saves before the shootout.
Notes: Noted agitator Sean Avery was scratched from New York's lineup for the first time this season. He has three goals, 21 assists and 158 penalty minutes in 69 games. ... In an odd bit of scheduling, the Rangers played only two games on their West Coast trip. They will return home to face the New York Islanders on Tuesday. ... A moment of silence was held before the game for victims of the tsunami and earthquakes in Japan.