Before we get to the game itself, let’s talk for a moment about how the MSG broadcast team scared the hell out of us last night with speculation that Marc Staal may have sustained a head injury after being hit by his brother Eric during the second period. Replays were shown, and questions were asked: Was it a headshot? (Joe Micheletti, at least, thought it might have been.) Or could Staal’s head have hit the ice, perhaps explaining why he’d later leave the game? They even dissected a clip of the trainer returning to the bench and speaking to John Tortorella, presumably after evaluating Staal in the locker room.
Here’s Micheletti describing Jim Ramsay’s return to the bench, during which he rubbed his head as he spoke to the Rangers coach:
It didn’t look very good. I don’t know if he was just rubbing the side of his face, or the side of his head because it was bothering him, or because he was showing John Tortorella where his head made contact with the ice.
To be fair, Dr. Micheletti at one point mentioned the possibility that the injury could be something else entirely. (Bill Pidto echoed this on the post-game, as well. So did Dave Maloney, though he also added that “it looks like the real damage was when he hit his head on the ice.”) It turns out, it was something else. After the game, John Tortorella provided the update: Staal had actually sustained a knee injury — one he didn’t think was “real serious” — and it had nothing to do with that Staal-on-Staal hit.
Of course, the Rangers won, too, adding another point between themselves and Carolina with the 4–3 shootout win, and doing it with the type of third-period comeback we’d grown accustomed to seeing earlier in the season. A nifty Wojtek Wolski move and a bounce of a Hurricane stick tied the game with 1:50 remaining and gave the Rangers one point, then a Wolski goal in the shootout gave them another. Granted, they’d put themselves in that 3–2 hole by allowing two third-period goals. And we’d be lying if we said we didn’t expect Erik Cole, who was flying all night, to eventually be rewarded with a goal that would seal the game. But he wasn’t. Last night, it was the Rangers that were rewarded for their effort with two badly needed points.