Despite dominating nearly the entire game, the Rangers were forced to mount a furious third-period comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. But led by the inspired play of Marian Gaborik, that's exactly what the Blueshirts did, skating to a 5-2 victory after spotting the visitors a 2-0 advantage.
Gaborik---who had four points on the night---assisted on Marc Staal's game-tying goal 7:36 into the third period and then scored the game-winner with 7:03 left to play---assisted by Staal.
Trailing all night the Rangers finally tied the score in the final period of play scoring off a beautiful rush up ice. After Gaborik flew up left wing with the puck, he started a perfect Tic Tac Toe passing sequence to Michael Del Zotto down low, with Del Zotto in turn finding Staal wide open in front for his first goal of the season at 7:36.
Five minutes later Staal unloaded a rocket from the left point which was deflcted by Gaborik as he leaped in the air in front of Toronto goaltender James Reimer. The puck found the back of the net---Gaborik's fourth goal of the season---and the Rangers had their first lead at 12:57 of the third period.
Brian Boyle iced the victory by deflecting Del Zotto's shot past Reimer at 17:08 on the Rangers 40th shot of the night. Gaborik scored into an empty net with 1:15 to play for the Blueshirts fifth goal of the game.
It would be hard to imagine that the Rangers could control a game more. both territorially and with the shot totals, than they did through 40 minutes of play Saturday night. Yet despite these major advantages---including a 25-9 edge in shots on goal---the Blueshirts trailed Toronto 2-1 into the second intermission.
The Maple Leafs scored on their first shot of the game, and then on their third and final shot of the first period to grab an early 2-0 lead. Mikhail Grabovski took advantage of poor defensive zone coverage to beat Henrik Lundqvist one-on-one down-low after a Ryan McDonagh giveaway 6:25 into the game to put the Rangers in a 1-0 hole. And then James Van Riemsdyk buried his own rebound for a power play goal at 17:15.
Reimer was peppered with 14 first-period shots by the Rangers, but was sharp in backstopping Toronto to that 2-0 lead through 20 minutes. His glove save on Rick Nash's break in wrist shot was highlight-reel worthy late in the first period.
The Rangers finally broke through against Reimer 5:43 into the second period to cut their deficit in half. Nash started the play by bulling his way to the net and firing a shot on goal. Gaborik hammered at the rebound---denied by Reimer---before Brad Richards backhanded the loose puck into the cage for his second goal of the season.
Arron Asham came within inches of tying the game minutes later after he danced around three Maple Leafs, but his tuck-in attempt was thwarted by Reimer's left pad with the goalie doing the splits. Later in the second period Dan Girardi's right-wing power play shot kissed off the crossbar as the Blueshirts again just missed out on the tying goal.
Early in the third period a perfectly-positioned Derek Stepan redirected McDonagh's point shot, but a sharp Reimer adjusted quickly and snuffed another good scoring chance for the home team.
Saturday saw the Rangers debut of forward Benn Ferriero, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Ferriero played a feisty game, providing the Rangers a dose of energy playing on a line with Brian Boyle and Carl Hagelin in the first two periods before centering Ryan Callahan and Taylor Pyatt in the third.