The Rangers showed some guts last night, scoring a pair of third period short handed goals to force overtime in a game where they definitely came out a little flat following the Ryan Callahan trade. The pair of non-penalty shot goals given up were due to blown coverages though, and those are things the Rangers have avoided during their January/February run.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 35 Ranger shots, and before everyone throws the backup moniker at him, let’s remember he has a .925 SV% this year. The Rangers didn’t play poorly, but they had a few lapses that cost them the game. They also took four penalties (one penalty shot), which didn’t help matters for a team that needed two points. The Rangers are still oh-for-March.
On to the goals (no pictures today, sorry about that):
Leafs 1, Rangers 0
Tyler Bozak with the penalty shot. No real breakdown here.
Leafs 2, Rangers 0
The Rangers, specifically Anton Stralman and Marc Staal, had a pretty bad shift and were stuck in their zone for a while. They coughed up the puck a few times, allowing Toronto to keep the pressure. Eventually Stralman gave the puck away to Nikolai Kulemin behind the net. Kulemin drew three Rangers to him following the turnover, including Staal. Nazek Kadri just sat at the backdoor waiting for either a pass and a rebound, and was able to bang home the rebound he wanted after Henrik Lundqvist stopped the Kulemin shot. Staal was out of position –Kadri was his man– but the Stralman turnover was brutal too.
Rangers 1, Leafs 2
Brian Boyle started this with a good forecheck on Cody Franson while on the penalty kill, forcing a turnover in the Leafs’ zone. Dominic Moore took the puck in the corner, and his pass to Boyle in front wound up going through to Ryan McDonagh at the point. Looking to just kill more time, McDonagh flipped the puck to the corner, but Dion Phaneuf stuck his leg out and accidentally kicked it into his own net, giving the Rangers a shorthanded goal.
Rangers 2, Leafs 2
On the same penalty kill, Dom Moore picked off an awful pass from Phil Kessel, and raced down with Derek Stepan on a 2-on-1 break. Phaneuf over-committed Stepan, leaving the pass to Moore wide open. Moore roofed it on Bernier to tie the game and get the Rangers a point.
Leafs 3, Rangers 2
Both McDonagh and Dan Girardi followed Kessel behind the net after he gained the zone on a 2-on-3 rush. With both defensemen behind the net, Bozak simply went to the front of the net, where he was ignored by Rick Nash. Kessel hit him with the pass, and Hank stood no chance. Game over.
In typical Leafs fashion, the Rangers crushed them in the puck possession game. However, the Leafs –again in Leafs fashion– found a way to win another one-goal game, something they’ve done a lot this season (I think they are 10-4 in those). You can tell that the Rangers started to click again after the first period, when the initial shock of playing without Cally settled in. After that, they held the Leafs to long stretches without Fenwick events, but the breakdowns were their eventual undoing.
The Rangers are now 0-2-1 in March and 1-2-1 since the Olympic break. Every point matters, so the positive from last night is that they clawed back to get a point against the Leafs. That said, they need wins. They need to collect two points against teams they are fighting for playoff spots. That’s three losses in a row and just one point. That won’t cut it in the stretch run.