Tortorella gets first win as Rangers bury Avalanche

NEW YORK (Ticker) — John Tortorella collected his first win as
coach of the New York Rangers – thanks to a rare scoring
outburst from the worst offense in the NHL.

Ryan Callahan and Nikolai Zherdev both scored in the first 68
seconds of the contest as the Rangers cruised to a 6-1 victory
over the slumping Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Scott Gomez notched a goal and two assists and All-Star Henrik
Lundqvist made 22 saves for the Rangers, who snapped a four-game
losing streak with their highest scoring output of the season.

“Finally. We deserve this,” Lundqvist said. “At least that’s
what I feel. We had so many games where it didn’t go our way
and we worked so hard.”

Zherdev and captain Chris Drury each recorded a goal and an
assist, Petr Prucha and Markus Naslund also tallied and rookie
Lauri Korpikoski had a pair of assists for New York, which
entered this contest with an NHL-worst 2.29 goals per game.

“All the big guys scored a goal, so hopefully they’ll feel good
about stuff,” Tortorella said. “It’s a confidence thing, it’s
not effort, it’s not the execution, it’s just the finish and I
think that’s confidence.”

Tortorella, who replaced fired Tom Renney on Monday, witnessed a
pair of 2-1 losses since taking the helm. He also went 0-3-1 in
a short stint with the Rangers during the 1999-2000 campaign.

Ryan Smyth netted the lone goal for the Avalanche, who have lost
four games in a row. Colorado had won its previous seven
meetings with the Rangers.

“We didn’t play the way we wanted to from the start of the game
through the end,” Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. “They came
out flying. They got a new coach in there and they were looking
to get something going.”

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Callahan opened the scoring 28 ticks into the contest off a pass
from Brandon Dubinsky, who led the 2-on-1 rush. Zherdev tallied
40 seconds later to give the Rangers an early 2-0 edge.

“I thought that was important tonight – to get off to a fast
start,” Tortorella said. “In the three games I’ve been involved
with the organization, I think we’ve played well enough to win
all three of them.”

“To break out the gates with two quick ones, it takes some
relief of the guys,” Dubinsky said. “It lets guys relax and
play their game and do what they’re best at. So it was just a
confidence boast.”

Prucha scored with 6:36 left in the first period, chasing Peter
Budaj from the game. Gomez extended the lead to 4-0 just 98
ticks later by deflecting defenseman Marc Staal’s shot past
Andrew Raycroft.

Drury netted a power-play goal at 4:56 of the middle session,
ending a career-long, goal-scoring drought. It was Drury’s
first goal since January 16, a span of 17 games.

Budaj stopped just six of the nine shots he faced before being
replaced by Raycroft, who made 17 saves.

“It definitely wasn’t the start we expected,” Budaj said. “It
starts with me. We have to be better than that. It’s
disappointing and pretty embarrassing. We’ve got to find a way
to be ready from start to finish.”