NEW YORK – Three games Wednesday night in the NHL were highlighted by the third Stadium Series game in five days for the league. This was one was the New York Rangers again playing the road team as they were hosted in Yankee Stadium by the New York Islanders.
The NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman was pleased with the two-game series in Yankee Stadium.
“It was simply an incredible two games at Yankee Stadium, and I can’t thank the Yankees organization and the Stadium crew enough for all of their help and cooperation in making this all possible’” Bettman said after the game. “I want to thank the Rangers and Jim Dolan: the Rangers obviously like playing outdoors here. I also want to thank the Islanders and Charles Wang.
“When you think about the fact that we’ve played three Outdoor Games in five days to over 150,000 people, then throw in the Winter Classic and another 100,000 people, it’s been an incredible month of special events. To our fans who were here both Sunday and tonight: Simply incredible. I know they had a good time; nobody braves the elements like hockey fans. It was great to see. It was gratifying, and we’re thrilled at the response that Yankee Stadium and the New York metropolitan area gave all three teams.”
For much of the early part of the season, the Rangers would yield the first goal of the game and fold up their tents. Since December that quirk has been buried as they continue to yield opening markers but have developed as a team that will respond.
This was the case Wednesday in the Bronx as the Islanders got off to the 1-0 lead in the second on a goal from Brock Nelson off a slick pass that Nelson one-timed past Henrik Lundqvist.
Just forty seconds later Benoit Pouliot scored off a Derick Brassard pass from behind the net that hit Pouliot in the chest. Before the puck had a chance to settle, Pouliot whacked high into the net for the tying goal.
“A late goal like that can give you a big boost coming into the third,” Pouliot said. “That’s what happened.”
Daniel Carcillo scored the game-winner at 4:36 of the third period when the Isles coughed up the puck inside the Rangers blueline. Carcillo and Dominic Moore made the rush up ice on what became a 4-on-2 with Moore taking the shot and the rebound off Evgeni Nabokov’s pads directly to Carcillo in the low slot who only had to wrist it home into the empty net for the win.
“These [outdoor games] are a ton of fun to play in,” Rangers’ defenseman Marc Staal said. “I could play in 50 of these in a year. It’s a lot of fun being out in that atmosphere.
“Well, maybe not 50,” he added, smiling. “Forty.”
Carcillo’s goal was his second since coming over from the Los Angeles Kings a few weeks back.
“Well, he brings energy like we expected him to bring. He brings bite to that line. That line can give us with Brian and Dom can give us some good, greasy offensive shifts where they’re spending a little time in the other end,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of Carcillo’s play after the game. “What they’ve done the last little while, and it’s probably why we’re winning more games right now is that you need a contribution from your whole lineup. We’re getting that line that’s scored us some big goals. Like they did tonight, that was a huge goal are us on that third period.”
The Rangers now have four games left before the Olympic break and Vigneault believes his team is now in a good position as it prepares for each opponent.
“Our guys are definitely getting themselves well prepared to play whichever opponent we’re playing. We know that all the games are going to be tough and challenging. They’re going to be hard-fought. Again, even in the New Jersey game, it was a 7-3 game, there
weren’t a lot of chances on both sides. We were just able to bury ours,” Vigneault said of the preparation. “Tonight it was a hard-fought chance. They’re going to be very close, and we were able to score one more than they were. That goal that Pouliot scored at the end of the second I think really helped us moving forward and definitely helped us in that third period.”
In Edmonton, recently acquired goalie Ben Scrivens made 59 saves to blank the San Jose Sharks, 3-0.
Scrivens’ efforts broke a record for saves over a 60-minute game previously held by the Coyotes’ Mike Smith who had made 54 saves.
“It’s one of those nights, it’s very fortunate,” Scrivens said. “I owe the shot-keeper a beer, I think. Every shutout you get is a team effort, and I know people roll their eyes at that, especially when shots are a bit lopsided like tonight. But [defenseman] Nick Schultz blocks a shot with five or six minutes left, and you know that shot is going in the net. I could tell that puck was going in. That’s a huge block, and you don’t get a shutout without a lot of help in front.”
Everyone in the building was a spectator including the Oilers who seemed in awe of Scrivens and that did not please their bench boss.
“That’s how I thought our skaters were playing the game; they were watching Ben play,” Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. “It’s one of those nights. I’m so happy for Ben and proud of him, and then you’re mad at the same time. There is such a separation in this league between San Jose, and (the) Anaheim (Ducks), Chicago (Blackhawks), St. Louis (Blues) and L.A., and the rest of the teams that we play.
“That is a hell of a hockey team. You preach all the time how you need a team to win a game, but now I’m rethinking it. It looked like we just needed to score one goal, and Ben won that game on his own. It was an incredible thing to watch. I’ve never seen that before.”
The Sharks have two in a row, both to shutouts.
“Hats off to the goaltender. He was tremendous,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Scrivens. “Probably first, second and third star. If he wasn’t, he deserved it. Heck of a performance. In all my years in the League, I don’t think I’ve seen that, so give him credit.”
In Vancouver, the Canucks built a 2-0 lead on goals by Chris Higgins and Tom Sestito. From there it was all Blackhawks who got healthy in Vancouver with a 5-2 win.
The Chicago rally included four goals in the middle frame.
“They haven’t won a couple Stanley Cups for no reason,” said goalie Roberto Luongo, who finished with 36 saves. “We’ve got to play 60 minutes against teams like that. For the majority of the game, I thought we played really well, but we had a little lapse, and it’s game over.”
Higgins got the game going early with his goal coming just 16 seconds into the match.
“Get scored on the first shift is never a good feeling, but we knew that wasn’t going to be the difference,” Chicago’s Jonathan Toews said.
That first goal shook the Blackhawks a bit as took over the play but could not get anything past Luongo until the second and after Sestito scored.
“We know we didn’t play a good bunch of games before, but we didn’t panic after it was 2-0, and we find a way to win,” said Marian Hossa.
Rangers 2, Islanders 1
Oilers 3, Sharks 0
Blackhawks 5, Canucks 2
VISITORS CONTINUE OUTDOOR GAME DOMINANCE
With the Rangers’ victory, visiting teams improved to 9-1-1 in the 11 regular-season outdoor NHL games to date. The only home clubs to win an outdoor game are the Bruins, who defeated the Flyers 2-1 in overtime of the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, and the Flames, who shut out the Canadiens 4-0 in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.
OUTDOOR HOCKEY: BY THE NUMBERS
A look at the NHL’s 11 regular-season outdoor games (since 2003):
Number of regular-season outdoor NHL games: 11
Number of football venues that have hosted: 5
Number of baseball venues that have hosted: 5*
Number of teams that have participated: 16
Number of players and head coaches that have participated: 382
Total attendance: 623,136
Average attendance: 56,649
* Yankee Stadium is the only venue to host two games
DID YOU KNOW?
The attendance of 50,027 at Yankee Stadium pushed total attendance for the first four outdoor games of the 2013-14 season to 259,722 . . . The temperature at puck drop was announced as 22.0°F/-5.6°C . . . Twelve Rangers played in their third regular-season outdoor NHL game, tying Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk, Devils forward Michael Ryder and retired goaltender Ty Conklin for the most career appearances in an outdoor game.
REMINDER: “NHL REVEALED” AIRS TONIGHT IN CANADA
The second episode of “NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other” debuts tonight in Canada on CBC (9:00 p.m. ET).
The episode will be re-broadcast on Sportsnet in Canada (Feb. 2 at 9:00 p.m. local) and on NHL Network in the U.S. (Feb. 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET).
Click here for a recap of the episode.
SCRIVENS RECORDS 59-SAVE SHUTOUT
Ben Scrivens stopped all 59 shots he faced to lead the Oilers to their third consecutive victory, their second such winning streak this season (Nov. 16-21). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Scrivens’ 59 saves were the most ever by a goaltender in a regular-season shutout (in the expansion era), besting the previous mark of 54 set by Coyotes netminder Mike Smith in a 2-0 triumph over the Blue Jackets on April 3, 2012.
* There have been two instances of a goaltender making more than 59 saves in a postseason shutout: Dominik Hasek stopped 70 shots in the Sabres’ quadruple-overtime victory over the Devils on April 27, 1994, and Patrick Roy made 63 saves in the Avalanche’s Stanley Cup-clinching, triple-overtime win over the Panthers on June 10, 1996.
* Scrivens’ 59 saves also were the most in a regular-season game (not including a shutout) since March 21, 1991, when Ron Tugnutt stopped 70 shots for the Nordiques in a 3-3 tie versus the Bruins.
* Scrivens improved to 9-7-4 in 23 appearances this season, including a 2-2-0 mark since being traded to the Oilers. He leads the League in save percentage (.937), is tied for second in shutouts (4) and ranks third in goals-against average (1.93).
QUENNEVILLE CLIMBS THE COACHING CHARTS
Trailing 2-0 early in the second period, the Blackhawks scored five unanswered goals to snap a four-game losing streak and reclaim first place in the Central Division (33-10-13, 79 points). With the victory, head coach Joel Quenneville moved into sole possession of third place in all-time wins:
MOST WINS BY A HEAD COACH, NHL HISTORY
1. Scotty Bowman: 1,244
2. Al Arbour: 782
3. Joel Quenneville: 693
4. Dick Irvin: 692
Oilers forward Taylor Hall (1-2—3) factored on all three of Edmonton’s goals to extend his assist/point streak to six games (1-8—9) . . . Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad (2-1—3) recorded his second three-point game of the season . . . Three other Blackhawks had multi-point performances: Marian Hossa (1-1—2), Patrick Sharp (1-1—2) and Jonathan Toews (1-1—2) . . . The Stars signed forward Ryan Garbutt to a three-year contract extension. The 28-year-old Winnipeg native has 10-8—18 in 46 games this season, all career highs . . . The Ducks signed defenseman Mark Fistric to a three-year contract extension. The 27-year-old Edmonton native has 1-4—5 and a +8 rating in 27 games this season.
SNEAK PEEK AT THURSDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Montreal @ Boston, 7:00 p.m., NHLN-US, RDS, TSN-HABS, NESN
Florida @ Toronto, 7:00 p.m., FS-F, SNET-O
Washington @ Columbus, 7:00 p.m., CSN-DC, FS-O
Tampa Bay @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m., SUN, SNET-E, TVA
New Jersey @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., MSG PLUS, FS-SW
Minnesota @ Colorado, 9:00 p.m., FS-N, ALT
San Jose @ Calgary, 9:00 p.m., CSN-CA, SNET-W
Buffalo @ Phoenix, 9:00 p.m., MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-A PLUS
Philadelphia @ Anaheim, 10:00 p.m., CSN-PH, PRIME
Pittsburgh @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., ROOT, FS-W