A simple hello in the dressing room when none of his teammates expected to see him lit the fuse Sunday and provided a lift in a 2-1 victory Sunday over the Chicago Blackhawks.
“It didn’t hurt, that’s for sure,” coach Tom Renney said of Shanahan’s impromptu visit. “It was good to see him standing up.”
The last time the Rangers saw Shanahan he was strapped to a back board with a brace around his neck, being wheeled out of Madison Square Garden on a stretcher.
Shanahan was released from the hospital Sunday after spending the night under observation for a concussion. The 38-year-old forward was knocked unconscious Saturday during a 5-3 home loss to Philadelphia after colliding hard with Flyers forward Mike Knuble.
Tests didn’t reveal neurological damage, and Shanahan doesn’t have any other serious injuries beyond the concussion and general aches and pains. It is unknown how long he will be sidelined, but he won’t play for at least a week.
That didn’t stop him from taking a detour to see the Rangers about an hour before the first puck dropped.
“It was pretty inspirational to see him come when he is supposed to go right home and just rest,” said Matt Cullen, who assisted on Marcel Hossa’s goal. “For him to go out of his way and do that shows how much he cares.”
“It was really impressive.”
And the message was simple. Shanahan wanted his teammates to know he was thinking about them. He gave them good luck wishes and expressed his desire to rejoin them quickly.
“He said thank you for all the phone calls he got from the guys, but he didn’t remember who called,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 21 saves. “It was just good to see him smiling.”
Martin Straka and Hossa scored 10 minutes apart in the first period and the Rangers then hung on after failing to score on many other chances.
Lundqvist looked good one day after taking a painful shot off the left shoulder. He rested during the third period Saturday to prepare for the rare matchup with Chicago. He iced his shoulder several times Saturday night and donned extra padding for the game.
“I wanted to get in right away and get a win,” he said. “I know it’s no problem, it’s just pain.”
Martin Havlat brought Chicago within a goal late in the second period, but it wasn’t enough to continue the Blackhawks’ success in New York. They hadn’t played on Broadway since a win on Dec. 11, 2002, and are 6-2-1 in their past nine trips.
Patrick Lalime made 27 saves, including 13 in the second period, in his second straight start and third in six games following a back injury that forced him to miss 53. He has yielded only three goals.
The Rangers, 11th in the Eastern Conference, held on and gained two points as they try to inch up toward a playoff spot. They have won four of five heading into a home-and-home series against Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey.
“The guys wanted this one, so a two-goal lead coming out of the first period was essential to us controlling the balance of the hockey game,” Renney said.
Chicago carried play in the second, but was stonewalled by Lundqvist. That is until Havlat cut the deficit in half when his shot from a bad angle along the goal line hit Lundqvist and ricocheted in with 1:15 left.
The goal was Havlat’s 23rd this season and eighth in nine games.
“I think everybody was a little bit nervous when they scored that lucky goal,” Lundqvist said. “It feels good to win a game like this.”
Lalime kept Chicago in it during an active first period when the Rangers tried to erase Saturday’s difficult loss to the NHL’s worst team.
“Maybe we kind of took them too lightly,” Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith said. “We knew they played and obviously we didn’t prepare ourselves as a team.”
“They came out flying and we didn’t.”
Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr was all over the ice and shared the puck with crisp passes – mostly to linemate Straka. The only time they connected for a goal came during a power play just 1:42 in.
Straka easily could’ve had a hat trick if not for Lalime robbing him after Jagr setups. Straka settled for the one that earned Jagr his 892nd assist, 18th most in NHL history.
Straka had yet another chance to stretch the lead, but his short-handed rush midway through the third ended with a shot off the post.
“I got so many chances and you’ve just got to score,” Straka said. “If we scored three, four goals in the first 20 minutes we could play easy and don’t have to be nervous in the last minute.”
The goal got the Rangers back on the power-play track after a 1-for-8 performance in Saturday’s 5-3 loss – including 0-for-6 in the opening period.
Hossa made it 2-0 at 11:40 with his seventh goal, fifth in seven games.
Notes: Jagr leads the NHL with 51 assists. He has points in six straight games (2 goals, 7 assists). … Lundqvist (25-18-3) has allowed two goals or fewer 12 times in 15 games. He made a career-high 14th straight start. … It was Chicago’s first regulation loss in four games (1-1-2).