Truth is, he hadn’t. Orr, whose hands are used to punching more than shooting, netted his first NHL goal Friday night and sent the New York Rangers on the way to a 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The six-foot-three, 220-pound bruiser seemed as surprised as anyone when his sweeping backhander from the left-circle dot found its way underneath the pad of Johan Holmqvist, who didn’t expect the drive.
And why should he have? In 65 previous NHL games, including 29 this season, Orr’s offence consisted of one assist – registered March 29, 2006 – and eight lifetime shots.
“I was just excited. Happy that it went in,” said Orr, who carried 133 career penalty minutes into the game. “I was just trying to get it on net.”
That started a theme. The goal-starved Rangers looked to their top lines for offence, but instead got it from the hard-hitters in snapping a four-game losing streak.
Ryan Hollweg also scored, for his first point of the season, and newly acquired Sean Avery added a goal, as did Marcel Hossa and Jaromir Jagr in raucous Madison Square Garden.
Almost forgotten was Henrik Lundqvist, who made 29 saves for his second shutout this season and fourth in his two-year career. New York, in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, moved within five points of the Lightning, who had a four-game winning streak ended.
“Those guys are symbolic of what we’ve wanted to be here from the get-go,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said of Orr and Hollweg. “They were able to respond to that challenge and offer up what is required. I think the rest of their teammates love them for it.”
Holmqvist allowed four goals on 16 shots before Marc Denis relieved him in the second period. The numbers were bad enough, the scorers made things worse.
Orr has found it hard to stay in the lineup, having been scratched for five of the prior seven contests. When the red light went on at 4:28 of the first period, he thrust his arms up and waited for his teammates to celebrate.
It came right after he landed a big hit on Blair Jones and nearly dropped the gloves with Andre Roy. They later fought in the second period.
“It wasn’t the right time yet,” Orr said.
Just over seven minutes later, Hossa made it 2-0. Hardly a prolific scorer like brother Marian of Atlanta, Marcel notched his fourth of the season and 24th in 176 career games at 11:32.
Holmqvist got through the rest of the period unscathed, but his troubles were merely delayed as Hollweg and Avery connected 5:57 apart in the second to drive him from the net.
“They got a lucky goal on the first one,” Holmqvist said. “We needed a good start and we didn’t have it.”
Hollweg, who along with Orr are energy sources for the Rangers, skated up ice after Jagr gathered a turnover in the neutral zone. Jagr, seemingly the bigger threat, faked a shot from the right circle during the 2-on-0 break and deftly backhanded a pass to Hollweg at the left post for a quick redirect at 8:28.
It was the first point in 53 games this season for Hollweg, who hadn’t scored a goal in 84 contests, dating to Dec. 18, 2005. He had been scratched twice in four games after dressing for the first 50.
“It would have been selfish if I didn’t pass the puck,” Jagr said. “It is good for everybody. I would have compared it to when a big fat guy scores a touchdown in football. Everyone loves it. I want to see it, too. I want to see a big guy dancing.”
Avery’s goal at 14:25 was his 11th.
Not only were the scorers unusual, but it was the Rangers best output since before their losing streak. In the previous nine games, the Rangers totalled 20 goals and went 3-6.
All four losses in the skid were by one goal.
Jagr made it 5-0 at 3:32 of the third, when his shot squeezed under Denis’ right arm and crept in.
Things got rough at the end, and Hollweg was ejected following major penalties for kneeing and fighting. Orr picked up a misconduct to go with his earlier fight.
Lightning coach John Tortorella was pleased with how his team stood up to the Rangers.
“I’m glad it happened,” Tortorella said. “That should be an everyday occurrence. That’s what we’ve lost. That’s what good teams are about.”
Notes: Orr and Hollweg have combined for 328 penalty minutes this season. … Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier, the NHL leader with 34 goals, took eight shots.