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The Rangers Win, But the Hockey Gods Are Cruel, Cruel Beings

The Rangers last night exploded for four goals in the third period against a Pittsburgh team that had won twelve of its last thirteen games. Unlike Sunday night's win over Washington — and we'd highly recommend HBO's 24/7 Penguins-Capitals series, if only for Bruce Boudreau's "Let's fucking get our asses out of our heads" freak-out from the bench during that game — the Rangers contained not just an elite team last night, but one that's been playing up to their abilities lately.

Pittsburgh took just seven shots in the second period. They took just six in the third. Sidney Crosby wasn't credited with a single shot on goal in the entire game. (Even the officiating went the Rangers' way this time, on the correctly disallowed Crosby goal that would have tied the game at 2.) Yes, the Rangers took advantage of Pittsburgh's backup goalie, but still, that makes two come-from-behind wins this year in Pittsburgh. If the Knicks won last night in a loss, however, the Rangers lost last night in a 4–1 win.

Chris Drury — their captain and nominal leader — returned to the lineup last night after missing all but one game this year with a pair of finger injuries, the first of which he suffered blocking a shot during training camp. And on the night he returned, Ryan Callahan — the captain-in-waiting, and the player who, more than anyone, typifies the style of hockey this team plays when it plays its best — broke his hand. Blocking a shot. What did this team do to so upset the hockey gods?

That's the downside to a team that blocks so many shots: Eventually, something like this is bound to happen. Unfortunately, it happened to the heart and soul of the team, its second leading scorer and one of the few players who's consistently clicked with a linemate this year. The Rangers have dealt with some injuries already this season — from Drury to Vinny Prospal (who's due back after Christmas) to Marian Gaborik — but this one really hurts. But hey, the Rangers beat the Penguins last night! And better still, we'll get to relive that win, from the losing Penguins perspective, next week on HBO.

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Photo: Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images