As I sat on my couch watching the game tonight, I found myself repeating the same phrase over and over throughout the tilt: “it’s not their night”. I mean, this was a trap game, anyway. I watched as pucks bounced around Jacob Markstrom’s crease, deflected off defenders, and bounced into the Ranger net. The Blueshirts pummeled the young Swede and aside from a nifty move from Marian Gaborik, came up completely empty. They dominated play for most of the night, but nothing went right this evening.
The top three lines showed flashes of brilliance, Hank looked very sharp, and the cycle/puck possession game looked fairly strong. They created chances, but Markstrom played a tremendous game. Hopefully they came build off some of the positives against the Caps. Onto the goals…
Panthers 1, Rangers 0
After Roman Hamrlik took a high sticking penalty around the 8:00 mark, the Panther powerplay went to work. Dan Girardi misplayed a clearing attempt, allowing the cats to retain possession. The puck was worked around to Brian Campbell, who blasted an absolute beauty over the left shoulder of Lundqvist.
Panthers 2, Rangers 0
This goal was one of the aforementioned bad bounces. Jack Skille made a strong cut move to the front of the net, which Hank made a tough save on. The rebound caromed into the slot, where a serious scrum ensued. Scottie Upshall was able to get a stick to it, after which is bounced off Lundvist’s blocker and into the back of the net. Brutal break.
Second period- No scoring
Panthers 2, Rangers 1
The Rangers regrouped after winning an offensive zone faceoff back to the neutral zone. Del Zotto worked the puck over to Nash, who found Gaborik streaking in behind the defense on the far side. Gabby broke in alone on Markstrom and put a beautiful backhand upstairs.
Panthers 3, Rangers 1
Empty net from the Panthers zone. Just icing on the cake in this one.
The loss snapped a two game winning streak for New York, and I know there are a lot of frustrated fans out there. However, that game could have easily been won 5-2 had Markstrom not been a beast. (If he’s not an argument for smaller equipment, I don’t know who is.) There were definitely periods where they seemed to go through the motions and overall the effort still has to be better. They did, however, put 45 shots on goal. Including 8 from Marian Gaborik, who looked much improved tonight.
Time to turn it around Sunday evening against the Caps. With the trade deadline approaching, and the games winding down, it’s time for this team to get on a roll.