It seems quite ironic that on a night he and his linemates were asked to help shut down one of the league's top offensive players in Phil Kessel, Brian Boyle scored his first goal in 23 games to help lead the Rangers to a 3-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.
Boyle was deployed with Brandon Prust and either Ruslan Fedotenko or Carl Hagelin all night to help contain Kessel, Toronto's 24-goal scorer. And Boyle responded with a robust physical performance, and an extremely strong defensive effort.
He also doubled the Blueshirts 1-0 advantage at 16:28 of the second period when he spun a shot from the right-wing circle that eluded Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson. The goal was Boyle's third of the season, and first since he scored on November 25th in Washington.
Mike Rupp had opened the scoring for the Rangers 3:35 into the middle period, scoring off a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence from Derek Stepan and Wojtek Wolski. The goal was Rupp's fourth of the season, and the assist for Wolski was his first since October 29th, which also includes a 29-game injury-related absence from the lineup.
Martin Biron won for the ninth time in 11 starts this season, earning his second shutout of the season, and the 28th of his NHL career. Though not tested often---he faced only 12 shots through the first 40 minutes of play, Biron was very sharp when called upon, in particular during Toronto power plays in the second and third periods. Biron finished with 17 saves.
The Blueshirts' netminder also earned his third assist of the season when he started a third period breakout which resulted in Stepan's 10th goal at 6:01. Stepan finished the game with the goal and an assist.
The Rangers have won six of their last seven games, and 11 of their last 13, and now have 60 points already on the season.