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Given his shot, Nigel Dawes capitalizes

October 26 2007 at 3:32 PM
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Given his shot, Dawes capitalizes
Friday, October 26, 2007
Star-Ledger Staff

NEW YORK -- As far as Brendan Shanahan sees it, Nigel Dawes has an NHL shot, now he just needs to perfect his NHL game.

For one night, the shot was enough.

Dawes, a 22-year-old rookie, scored both goals in the Rangers' 2-0 victory over the Devils last night at Madison Square Garden, ending a goal drought for his team that stood at 126 minutes when the puck dropped on the opening faceoff.

Just 57 seconds after that, Dawes fired a shot past Martin Brodeur for a 1-0 Rangers lead on an assist from Shanahan.

"He's probably got one of the best shots on the team," Shanahan said. "And before he scored his second goal (in the third period), I thought Nigel was one of the best and most dangerous players on the ice tonight."

Dawes is with the Rangers as a byproduct of the many injuries that have hit the team in recent weeks. Sent down to minor-league Hartford as the final cut after the preseason, Dawes bided his time. When Brandon Dubinsky suffered a concussion on Oct. 13 against Ottawa, Dawes got his chance.

After his recall from Hartford, Dawes was held without a point in his first three games, but got tastes of playing with the Rangers' top forwards. Against the Devils last night, he started off on a line with Shanahan and Chris Drury, and by the third period, was seeing ice time with Jaromir Jagr and Scott Gomez.

"I know I can play," Dawes said. "I want to try and take advantage of this."

He gave the Rangers a reason to take an even longer look at him in the third period. After taking an elbowing penalty at 8:26, he made up for it on the power play after Sergei Brylin was called for holding at 15:10.

Lurking once again in the right circle, as he had been for his first goal, Dawes unleashed a wrist shot that beat Brodeur with 3:53 left, virtually sealing the game for the defensively solid Rangers.

It was the first multi-goal game of Dawes' career, which stands at a mere 12 NHL games, including eight last season.

"This is a real famous building and the fans are unbelievable," Dawes said. "To do it at Madison Square Garden is something I'll always remember."

Whether Dawes makes enough of a case to stick around once the injuries heal is still in question. It'll be a tough decision for coach Tom Renney.

"He's a good player. He's got a quick release and he's got enough confidence to shoot the puck," Renney said. "You give a horse a bit, and these kids take it and go. They are fearless and confident.

"It provides a dilemma, a conundrum, in a couple weeks when our guys come back. But that's a healthy situation."

Bridget Wentworth may be reached

at bwentworth@starledger.com


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