The Nashville Predators beat the New York Rangers 2-1 in a tightly played contest Wednesday night at Madison Square Gardens.
Dan Ellis' stellar goaltending was the difference as he stopped all 18 Ranger shots in the third period and 37 of 38 shots for the game.
Rookie Colin Wilson had the game winning goal on a power play with 3:50 left in the second period. Jordin Tootoo had the Pred's other goal late in the first period.
Henrik Lundqvist also had an excellent night in goal stopping 34 of 36 Predator shots. The Ranger goal was scored by Vinny Prospal on the power play midway through the second period.
The Rangers came out at the start of the game with plenty of energy as they had not played since Saturday. The Predators matched them stride for stride and out shot the Rangers 4-3 leading up to the games first penalty at 7:32 when Joel Ward was called for holding.
After the needless penalty, the Rangers got two shots on the power play while the Preds got one. Chris Drury had a great opportunity on a breakaway but Dan Ellis held firm in goal.
The Predators went on the power play at 11:08 when Erik Christensen was called for hooking Colin Wilson. The Preds were unable to get any pressure on the Rangers or any shots during the man advantage,
Enver Lisin was called for slashing Kevin Klein at 15:11 to put the Pred's power play unit back on the ice. New York kept the Preds off balance but they did manage four shots on the man advantage.
Kevin Klein put the puck in play at 17:45 when he fired a slap shot through a crowd of players and it was defected into the net by Jordin Tootoo who was credited with the goal to put the Preds in from 1-0.
At 19:31, the Rangers were again stung with a penalty when Corey Potter was called for interference. The Pred's power play was negated at 19:49 when Ryan Callahan stole the puck from Shea Weber and took a breakaway the length of the ice and was deterred by Steve Sullivan who was called for holding as Callahan got a shot on Ellis who was able to control the puck.
The period ended with the Preds leading in shots by an 11-9 margin. The Corsi margin was larger at 23-16.
The second period started with 1:29 of four on four play from the carry over penalties. The remainder of the penalty time was uneventful.
A series of Ranger turnovers led to several quick Predator chances. At 2:02, Jordin Tootoo almost had his second goal of the game on a breakaway that Henrik Lundqvist was able to corral. Thirty seconds later, Colin Wilson fed a pass to Marty Erat on an odd man rush that ended up with a shot hitting the crossbar. A third breakaway happened a minute later when J.P. Dumont was stoned by Lundqvist.
Martin Erat was called for tripping on a horrible call at 7:40 when two Ranger players tripped each other as Erat was nearby on a faceoff. With 59 seconds left on Erat's penalty, Steve Sullivan was called for slashing to give the Rangers a five on three power play.
With two seconds left in the Ranger two man advantage the puck caromed off the wall behind the Preds net and Dan Ellis thought that he had control of it but Vinny Prospal worked it free from Ellis and knocked it into the net to tie the game 1-1.
A double minor was called against the Rangers at 12:34 when Michael Del Zotto was called for hooking Colin Wilson and then added an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as he explained what he thought of the call to the officials. After numerous chances and four shots, Colin Wilson finally got the puck past Lundqvist for a power play goal at 16:10 to put the Preds ahead 2-1.
For the second period the Preds led in shots 13-11 and also in the Corsi numbers by a 22-19 margin. Jerred Smithson left the game late in the period with a lower body injury and did not return.
The third period started with the Preds wanting to hold the lead against a Ranger team that has been 0-19-2 when trailing going in to the final period.
At 2:45 the Predator's worst nightmare happened again when Alex Sulzer lost his edge and fell behind the Preds net and Chris Drury went down with him drawing a hooking penalty. The Rangers had four shots during the man advantage but Ellis held firm.
Steve Sullivan went into the wall hard halfway through the third period trying to beat an icing call. He was grimacing in pain as he left the ice.
At 13:29, Barry Trotz called a time out as the Predators play was starting to deteriorate with the majority of play occurring in the Pred's end in front of Dan Ellis' net. The Preds were down to nine forwards with Smithson and Sullivan out and Belak not getting shifts in the tightly contested contest.
At 16:50 on a series of shots, the Preds defense collapsed and allowed repeated scoring chances but luckily, the Rangers shots were contained by Dan Ellis. As the seconds ticked down, the Predators were running out of gas and not near as crisp as they needed to be.
Steve Sullivan was able to return in the closing minutes for four shifts.
The Rangers pulled Lundqvist with 1:40 seconds left after a Ranger time out. As time wound down, Joel Ward was called for slashing with four seconds left to give the Rangers a brief bit of six on four play. Time ran out and the Predators capped a much needed win.
The Rangers played desperate hockey in the final period out shooting the Preds 18-12 and leading the Corsi numbers 26-14.
Storylines From The Game
Heroes All Around...
The adage that your best players have to be your best players did not hold true on Wednesday night. With both goals and the shot leaders coming from the lower lines there were many contributors in the game.
Jordin Tootoo was the shot leader with six, including the one that supplied the Pred's first goal, followed by Cal O'Reilly and Francis Bouillon with five each. Rookie Colin Wilson had four shots including his game winning goal. Cal O'Reilly also was seven of eleven in the face off circle.
Ellis Was Outstanding...
Over the last ten games when the Preds were 2-6-2, there were few occasions where a goalie was able to steal a game for the win. That is exactly what happened against the Rangers when Dan Ellis came up with game saving stops repeatedly throughout the game.
Ellis had not started a game since January 29th with Pekka Rinne having started the last five games. Ellis had a bit of trouble with rebounds early but came up with the big saves when he had to.
Jerred Smithson was forced to leave the game with 3:33 left in the second period with what was described as a lower body injury.
With 9:37 left in the final period, Pred fans everywhere held their breath as Steve Sullivan went into the end boards hard trying to prevent an icing call. Sully appeared to be in serious pain and all were hoping that he had not reinjured his surgical back.
Sullivan returned with 4:26 remaining and appeared to be OK playing four shifts when the team needed him most.
The Preds will try to stay out of the snow storm in the New York City area and head over to Newark on Friday for a game at the Prudential Center against the Devils.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass