Rangers Rally for Sweep After Simon Hit

Friday, March 9th 2007, 7:33 am
By: News On 6

For the Rangers, how sweep it is. The Rangers overcame a vicious hit on Ryan Hollweg by the Islanders' Chris Simon to sweep a home-and-home series with a 2-1 win over their rivals on Thursday night.

Hollweg was struck by Simon late in the third period when the New York Islanders' forward angrily charged him and nailed him with a clothesline hit with his stick.

Simon was ejected, and Petr Prucha scored on the resulting long power play to lift the Rangers.

``The best retaliation is to score on that power play,'' Hollweg said. ``I couldn't feel any better than when that puck went in.''

Hollweg stayed down on the ice for several minutes after the hit and was bleeding from the chin when he got up. He took a few stitches and had his face numbed, but expects to play Saturday when the Rangers visit Pittsburgh.

``I feel good,'' he said. ``We got the win. I kind of lost my hearing for a bit after it happened. I might've been out for a second or two. The pain goes away when you get those two points.''

Also Thursday, it was: Minnesota 2, Boston 1; Atlanta 6, Montreal 2; Florida 2, Philadelphia 1; Ottawa 5, Toronto 1; New Jersey 4, Pittsburgh 3 in a shootout; St. Louis 5, Dallas 3; Nashville 6, Calgary 3; and Vancouver 4, Phoenix 2.

The hit was reminiscent of often-replayed clips of Marty McSorley's swinging stick shot to the head of Donald Brashear, and Todd Bertuzzi's blindside punch against Steve Moore. Those both drew lengthy suspensions, and Simon could conceivably be shelved for the Islanders' remaining 15 regular-season games.

``I feel bad for taking a penalty that led to us losing the game,'' Simon said. ``I think I'll wait until I talk to the league office, and then I'll answer all questions afterward. I've always been known as a team guy, and I feel real bad about letting the team down.''

Prucha smacked in a shot from the slot, off a feed from Michael Nylander with 5:14 left in the game and 1:17 into Simon's penalty.

The Islanders killed off the rest of the power play and thought they tied the game with 20.4 seconds left. Marc-Andre Bergeron's shot was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist and Trent Hunter slid the puck back to the goal line where Lundqvist barely swept it out.

After a lengthy video review, with fans chanting ``Goal! Goal!'' while accompanied by the organist, referee Kevin Pollack signaled no goal.

``I turned around and saw the puck just sliding toward the goal,'' Lundqvist said. ``It's almost like slow motion. You try to get back with your stick. It's hard to see if it's a goal or not.''

The Rangers are 4-0-1 in their past five games and have moved into an eighth-place tie in the Eastern Conference with 15 games left. The seventh-place Islanders are just three points ahead despite failing to earn a point for just the third time in 21 games (12-3-6).

Devils 4, Penguins 3, SO

At Pittsburgh, Patrik Elias had the deciding goal in the shootout as New Jersey extended its Atlantic Division lead to eight points with a win over the Penguins.

Martin Brodeur made 21 saves and reached the 40-win mark for the sixth time in his career. Andy Greene had his first career goal, and Sergei Brylin and Travis Zajac also scored for the Devils.

Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and Michel Ouellet scored for the Penguins, who had won three of four but fell two points behind Ottawa for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Thrashers 6, Canadiens 2

At Atlanta, Jon Sim scored two goals and Atlanta beat Montreal for its fifth consecutive victory, matching the team record and moving it into first place in the Southeast Division.

The Thrashers also edged closer to making the playoffs for the first time in their seven-year history.

The Thrashers broke it open in the second period, scoring four times in less than 9 minutes for a 6-0 lead.

Montreal, which is also fighting for a playoff spot, lost for the fourth straight time and 11th in 15 games.

Senators 5, Maple Leafs 1

At Ottawa, Mike Fisher and Dean McAmmond each scored twice and Daniel Alfredsson had three assists for the Senators.

Alex Steen scored in the second period for Toronto, which remained tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 73 points.

The Maple Leafs, already tied with Carolina, squandered their game in hand on the Hurricanes and were joined in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot by the New York Rangers.

Canucks 4, Coyotes 2

At Glendale, Ariz., Jeff Cowan scored his sixth goal in four games and Markus Naslund also scored for Vancouver.

Brendan Morrison and Sami Salo also scored for the Canucks, who moved four points ahead of Calgary for the Northwest Division lead with their fourth straight win.

Shane Doan had a goal and an assist and Jeff Taffe also scored for the Coyotes, who have lost 11 of their past 13.

Wild 2, Bruins 1

At Boston, Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves and Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored the winner to lift Minnesota to the win.

The Wild are 4-0 in Boston and have lost only once to the Bruins in seven games.

Brian Rolston scored his team-leading 27th goal to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead 3:59 into the second period when he wristed a shot over the shoulder of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.

Panthers 2, Flyers 1

At Philadelphia, Chris Gratton got credit for a fluke tiebreaking goal early in the third period to lead Florida past Philadelphia.

Gratton, who also had an assist, was credited with the goal that broke a 1-1 tie at 1:43 of the period when Flyers goaltender Martin Biron's clearing attempt bounced off the right skate of Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones back into the net.

Ville Peltonen also scored for the Panthers, who have won six of their past seven games.

Predators 6, Flames 3

At Nashville, Tenn., Jason Arnott had two goals and an assist and Nashville never trailed in beating Calgary.

The Predators earned at least a point for a ninth straight game and padded their lead atop the NHL by three points over Buffalo and Detroit.

Blues 5, Stars 3

At St. Louis, Doug Weight scored two goals to lead the Blues over Dallas.

The Blues are 7-3-1 in their past 11 games. Dallas has scored just five goals in going 0-2-2 in its past four games.

Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen and Philippe Boucher scored for Dallas.