At the end of last night's 5–3 Rangers win in Ottawa, Joe Micheletti said on MSG that this wasn't a game the Rangers would have won last year, and that's probably true: They trailed three times last night, and were behind 3–2 entering the final period. Like a few of their wins lately, the Rangers didn't play a perfect game but showed some resiliency and rallied in the third. But they also did something they weren't even doing earlier in this season: capitalize on a late power play to give them what would stand up as the game-winning goal.
Michael Sauer — who's been quietly effective on defense in his rookie season — scored that power-play goal (the first tally of his career), off a nice feed from Brandon Prust. In doing so, he also made up for the turnover (caused by some miscommunication with Steve Eminger) that led to Ottawa's first goal. By the way, the forwards on the ice at the time of Sauer's goal? Prust, Sean Avery, and Brandon Dubinsky — more of a checking unit than a scoring unit, to be sure, and one only on the ice to play out the final seconds with the man advantage. (Speaking of lines, the current top line of Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan, and Ruslan Fedotenko scored twice last night, so expect that line to stick together until it inevitably stops clicking, just like all the other top-line combinations John Tortorella has tried thus far.)
Now, about those blood-flicking accusations. Derek Boogaard and Matt Carkner dropped the gloves toward the end of the first period, and after the game at least one Ranger accused Carkner of flicking blood at their bench as he skated by on his way off the ice.
Here's Brian Boyle, via SLAM! Sports:
"He just skated by, wiped his brow twice, maybe three times and just flicked (the blood) at us. I don't know why, but that's what happened," said Brian Boyle. "I was really surprised."
Brandon Dubinsky, though, was less than certain. Via the AP:
"I heard something like that, that he was swiping blood and flicking it at our guys," forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "I'm not sure 100 percent."
Carkner, who received an additional ten-minute misconduct after the scrap, denied the Rangers' accusations. From the Ottawa Sun:
"Maybe I made a gesture or something like that," he said. "The (linesman) said he had to give me a 10 and I'm like, 'Why?' He said they were complaining. I don't know, I just got in a fight with a big guy and the adrenalin was rushing. I tried to get off the ice and they were chirping me."
Carkner denied flicking blood.
"No, no," he said. "I don't even know who was bleeding at the time. I saw Boogaard was bleeding on the ice. I was just trying to skate off and get our guys going."
Here's the video, in which you can see Carkner make the flicking gesture, if you'd like to try and judge for yourself.