What a difference a couple of games make. Coming into their four game road trip through Western Canada, the Rangers were 0-1-2 and facing the prospect of playing in cities where they hadn't won since 1997 and 2002. Thanks to Ryan McDonagh's overtime goal with just 1.8 seconds to go, both those streaks have now been broken.
Clearly the Rangers aren't all the way back, but the performances tonight and on Tuesday have been encouraging. Both times Henrik Lundqvist has had to be a big part of the victory, although on a lesser scale with the Flames. The Rangers also continue to take too many penalties, with the team conceding about two more minors a game than this time last year.
And while the Rangers still struggled to maintain much offensive zone pressure, the Rangers got chances in all three periods, and ultimately converted on the inexperience of their opposing goalie.
The top line was prominent in the game at points, with Marian Gaborik chipping in his fourth goal in five games. He combined with Brad Richards - a point in each of the first five games - and Derek Stepan - his first point of the season - to break a four game fruitless stretch on the power play. Gaborik finished the night with 8 shots on goal, and is currently averaging 5 a game.
It's a stark improvement over last season where Gaborik was injured three games in and never really recovered to get back in the groove. It was also encouraging to see Stepan perform better, after a more subdued game back in Vancouver. Richards continues to be the orchestrator on the line though, and it's encouraging to see the positive start he's had on the season.
The second line continues to struggle, and perhaps none more than Artem Anisimov. They've shown flashes of brillance - particularly Dubinsky with a couple of rushes, including on the OT game winner - but are nowhere near the level we saw last season. Anisimov is not taking control of the puck and the game the way he did in the preseason, Callahan looks a little subdued, and Dubinsky is perhaps trying to do a little too much.
After a slow start to the season, the line of Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko have come alive on this road trip. Prust and Boyle combined for the team's first short handed goal of the year, and Boyle seems to be concentrating more now on getting the puck to the net than trying to be overly aggressive.
The fourth line too had their moments last night, and while Erik Christensen is yet to register a shot on goal - or much of an impression - he did finally appear to be playing with some speed and passion.
On defense, Dan Girardi appeared to be in a bit more of a physical mood though him and his partner did make a couple more mistakes than what we've become accustomed to. In the case of McDonagh, it's likely due to his increased focus on offense which was once again featured last night as he drove deep on more than one occasion. His OT winner was just reward for another positive game.
Tim Erixon had to deal with boos, and played one of his best games to date in a short career. Michael Del Zotto played another confident game, and it looks like it's only a matter of time before he starts to get a few more points.
The third pair of Steve Eminger and Jeff Woywitka also probably played their best games so far this season. Eminger was better positioned and more involved than we've seen in other games, and Woywitka appears to be growing in confidence as familiarity with the team and system grows. Too bad it's likely to be just in time for Mike Sauer to return.
In net, Henrik Lundqvist continues his fine early season form and made several strong saves, including a spectacular glove save mid-way through the second on a rebound shot.
Stepan - Richards - Gaborik
Dubinsky - Anisimov - Callahan
Fedotenko - Boyle - Prust
Rupp - Newbury - Christensen
McDonagh - Girardi
Del Zotto - Erixon
Woywitka - Eminger
It was just the sixth win for the Rangers in Calgary and the first time since November 14th, 2002 when Mikael Samuelsson scored the game winner, and Dan Blackburn stopped 35 of 36 in a 2-1 win.
Tim Erixon heard plenty of boos from the home crowd after forcing a trade to the Rangers back in June. The locals none too happy that their team couldn't come to terms with the former first rounder.
The Rangers were the last team without a power play goal before Marian Gaborik converted five minutes into the first period.
Henrik Lundqvist registered his first OT win of the season
Ryan McDonagh picked up his first OT goal of the season and set a career high with two goals so far this year. Two of his three career goals have been game winners.
Brandon Prust scored his first short handed goal of the season, and he now has six as a Ranger to put him in the lead amongst active players
Marian Gaborik scored his team leading fourth goal, and first on the power play, and now has 22 in his Rangers career, the most amongst active players - Ryan Callahan has 21
Kris Newbury picked up his first penalty minutes
Brendan Bell - healthy
Mike Sauer - injury (shoulder)
Mark Staal - injured reserve (concussion)
Wojtek Wolski - injury (groin)