The storyline for the Rangers going into tonight’s game against Atlanta was simple. Find a way to win and get the two critical points to push closer to locking up a playoff spot or lose control of your own fate and have Carolina in control of what happens. Things are never that easy for the Rangers or their fans as by the time the final buzzer went the Garden was mainly emptied out and the result was a disgraceful 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. Now the Rangers are left to scoreboard watch and hope that in game 82 they have a shot to get back some semblance of control with a win against the Devils.
The night started with tremendous emotion with the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award being awarded to Brandon Prust for his tremendous battle this year. During the award ceremony Steven McDonald fired up the crowd telling the Thrashers, “We win, you lose.” Regarding the playoffs McDonald added, “We may be one of the last ones in, but we will not be the first one out.” Too bad the Rangers did not play that way on the ice tonight.
After a very good first five minutes of the game the Rangers were badly outplayed by an Atlanta team that had absolutely nothing to play for which is absolutely unacceptable consider what was on the line for New York. Both teams had chances in the first but the goaltending stood the tests.
At 7:42 of the second period Atlanta would get on the board with a goal from Rob Schremp after Henrik Lundqvist made multiple stops during the sequence. Schremp collected the loose puck in the slot and unlike the Rangers he finished his chance. Just 15 seconds later the Thrashers would twist the knife a little deeper when Andrew Ladd broke down the left side and beat Lundqvist with a backhand shot.
The talk heading into the third was about the comeback against Boston on Monday, but that was more wishful thinking that anything based on this game. Eric Boulton would finish off the hopes of that miracle comeback 4:19 into the third when he beat Marian Gaborik to the front of the net and tipped the puck up and over Lundqvist to make it 3-0.
The team made that miraculous comeback basically moot by handing over control of their destiny to Carolina who now with two wins and Buffalo with just one point can lock the Rangers out of the playoffs.
The only player that seemed to give a damn tonight was Henrik Lundqvist and for a tea that has prided themselves on effort all season that is embarrassing given the circumstances surrounding this game.