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Refs Wave Off Rangers Goal, Hand Devils Win

Goal with 3.5 seconds to play gets negated by penalty on Gaborik

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Mar 29, 2012  |  Updated 11:37 AM EDT
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The scrum in front wasn't what cost the Rangers a point.

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It looked like another memorable moment in this Rangers season filled with them.

With 3.5 seconds to play, Artem Anisimov put a puck past Martin Brodeur, tying the game 1-1 and making another steely night from Henrik Lundqvist stand up at Madison Square Garden. Overtime was coming, a point was assured and there might even be another one coming.

Ah, but there was a rub. Marian Gaborik was called for goalie interference, wiping out the goal, allowing Brodeur to finish with his first shutout of the season and giving him a rare victory over Lundqvist.

Both Gaborik and John Tortorella were irate about the call, with Gaborik railing about being pushed into Brodeur by Anton Volchenkov of the Devils and therefore absolving him of any guilt. Watching the play, it certainly looks like Gaborik's getting pushed while he's driving to the net, although that makes it a bad penalty without necessarily making it a good goal. 

That kind of contact, regardless of what led to it, gets goals waved off every night. That's the rule of the ice in the NHL right now, so there's an argument to be made that the goal shouldn't have counted even without a penalty. 

Should that rule be different? 

Perhaps, but that's a different conversation than the one about Gaborik, Brodeur and Tuesday night at the Garden. What seems most telling about the Rangers argument is that they'd be just as angry if they were on the other side and a goal like that against Lundqvist wound up counting.

Something that's also a different conversation and one that needs to take precedence over cursing the officiating is the fact that the Rangers continue to have an offense that disappears way too frequently.

A referee's call impacted the very end of the game, but it wasn't a bigger reason for the Rangers loss than the fact that they haven't found anyone to go with Gaborik as a consistent goal scorer. 

Brad Richards was supposed to be that guy, but he's now been benched for the third period of Saturday's win in Philly and dropped to the fourth line against the Devils. He hasn't helped the team 5-on-5 and the power play has scored on just one of their last 34 opportunities with a man advantage.

It's the kind of problem that can and probably will sink them in the playoffs if it isn't addressed via trade before the deadline. Figuring out just who is expendable from the current lineup without too drastically affecting everything else the team does well isn't easy, but it is something that probably needs to happen in order for the team to achieve what it looks like they are capable of achieving this season.

The call was frustrating, but the frustrations of the first 59-plus minutes are a lot more meaningful.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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