9/9/07 vs. Rangers (0-4-0)
After a three-week layoff, we headed into our matchup with the Rangers in first place in our division. This game would mark the conclusion of the first round of divisional play and we were intent on remaining in first. While we would be without two of our leading scorers, Ed & Paul, in addition to Doug, Dom and Dave, Chuck was about to make his return from a leg injury that saw him miss 3.5 months of action, but someone else stole show.
In the opening moments of the first period, we flat-out dominated the Rangers, overwhelming them with shots and puck control. Just 2:29 into the game, Chuck made a full return to form, collecting his first goal of the season with Lenny and Marc assisting as he deposited a puck from the slot into the far corner of net. The Rangers collected themselves and were able to generate some offense for the next minute or so, but after some intense pressure with Chuck cycling the puck, he and Tom S. combined to find Alexey for his first of the night (of many) at the 5:34 mark. Immediately after the Rangers were called for a tripping penalty, Chuck found Alexey again, who tapped in his second goal less than 30 seconds after the first, to give us a 3-0 lead. 10 seconds later, after Chuck won the ensuing faceoff, the puck eventually found Alexey again as he stepped in over the blue line. He promptly rifled a slapshot through the goalie’s legs into the back of the net for a natural hat trick and a huge 4-0 lead, just 6:10 into the game. While we continued to dominate the Rangers, we began to take a few needless and careless penalties. First was Bob for interference and then Alexey for a slash. Finally, with Ike in the box, also for a slashing call, the Rangers got on the board with a hard wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle that glanced of Josh, but found the net. With the continuous and generous power plays we were willing to give up, as well as being able to cut the deficit to 3, the Rangers stepped up their intensity and maintained some pressure in our defensive zone for the remainder of the period.
Our break between periods was spent discussing being more disciplined and staying out of the box. While we were fairly successful in achieving that goal, the Rangers carried on with the pressure and momentum they were building at the end of the first period. Less than five minutes in, they found the net again on a long slap shot from the top of the right circle. The shooter used Lyle perfectly as a screen and the puck flew by Josh before he could pick it up. Just a few minutes later, as the Rangers came down on a 3-on-2, a shot from just inside the blue line went wide, but bounced out to the other side of the net where a Rangers player picked it up and fired it on net. Josh was able to make the save, but was unable to control rebound, which was swiftly punched home to cut our lead down to one. Play went back and forth for the remainder of the period with neither team gaining an advantage, but just as time was running out, with 0.4 seconds on the clock, Alexey found the net again to push our lead back up to two.
Starting the third period, we knew this could remain a close game, but just two minutes in, Alexey fired his fifth goal of the game into the far corner of the net to increase our lead back to three. However, less than 3 minutes later, the Rangers found some more life on a breakaway. Even though Josh got a piece of the shot, it slid through his legs and barely slipped over the line to bring the score to 6-4. Again, play continued in both ends and numerous penalties were called, but with 3:31 showing on the clock, Alexey capped off his big night with goal number six, sealing the win and allowing us to sustain our hold on first place.
In addition to Alexey’s big night, Chuck also tallied a goal and two assists and Tom S. helped out with three assists as well for a big point night from that line. Check out the updated stats page to see our leading scorers.
Final score: 7-4 (4-1-0)
Next week is a late night, rematch with our week one foes, the Buzzards. This game will be for a shot at an outright hold on first in our division.