Rangers crush Colorado

February 28, 2009 6:52:41 PM PST
Ryan Callahan and Nikolai Zherdev scored in the first 68 seconds, and the Rangers busted out of their offensive doldrums in a 6-1 victory Saturday night over Colorado that gave coach John Tortorella his first win with New York. Tortorella, who took over Monday for the fired Tom Renney, dropped a pair of 2-1 decisions before seeing his aggressive style produce the Rangers' highest scoring output this season.

Petr Prucha and Scott Gomez also scored in New York's second four-goal first period. The Rangers jumped two points in front of Florida into sixth place in the Eastern Conference after dropping 12 of 14 games (2-8-4).

New York captain Chris Drury added to the onslaught when he snapped a career-worst, 17-game goal drought with a 5-on-3 power-play tally at 4:56 of the second. Markus Naslund reached 20 goals for the 10th straight season in the third.

The game deteriorated into a street fight in the closing minutes as several brawls delayed the inevitable ending.

The only suspense was gone with 6:55 left in the second when Ryan Smyth snapped Henrik Lundqvist's shutout bid. By then, the Rangers had built a 5-0 lead against the ineffective goalie tandem of Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft.

Tortorella, winless in a four-game stint as Rangers coach in 2000, said before the game he had begun to get to know his new players and that they are grasping the up-tempo, pressure style he wants to play.

After a video session Friday, the Rangers put what they learned into action. New York had scored more than two goals once during their skid and none in their previous 14 losses.

Callahan got it started when he helped force a turnover and then took a perfect feed from Brandon Dubinsky to make it 1-0 at 28 seconds.

Unlike Thursday's home loss to Florida, when New York had a goal waved off 17 seconds in, this one stuck and was just the beginning.

Zherdev doubled the lead at 1:08 when he took a pass in front and pinballed the puck off the skate of defenseman Ruslan Salei on the Rangers' third shot.

Prucha, given a second chance under Tortorella after being a regular scratch by Renney, made it 3-0 with 6:36 left in the period.

That sent Budaj to the bench after he faced nine shots. New York needed 1:38 and one shot to solve Raycroft as Gomez pushed the lead to 5-0 when he tipped in Marc Staal's slap shot.

Smyth got behind defenseman Dmitri Kalinin, who fumbled a puck in the neutral zone, and scored on a breakaway. It wasn't nearly enough for the Avalanche, who have dropped four straight and are at the bottom of the West.

The Rangers got that goal back when Gomez slithered a pass through the crease to Drury, who scored for the first time since Jan. 16 at Chicago. Naslund closed the scored with 5:11 remaining.

Notes: The Rangers are 26-3-2 when they score at least three goals. ... Colorado will conclude its six-game road trip Monday against the New York Islanders. ... The Rangers snapped an 0-5-2 skid against the Avalanche, beating them for the first time since Nov. 20, 2001. The Avalanche took the previous meeting in New York on Oct. 18, 2005. ... The Rangers were one of four teams without a 20-goal scorer.


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