NEW YORK – It was another evening of missed opportunities for the New York Rangers Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Despite a furious charge in the second and third periods, the Rangers were unable to solve Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller (29 saves) in their 3-2 loss.
After starting 15-5-3 in one goal games this season, the Rangers are 2-7-1 in their last ten one-goal games this season.
“It’s like the last month it’s been like that. I don’t know what we are [4-7-1] in our last so many games at the Garden. We’ve been a pretty good road team all year,” said forward Erik Christensen, who scored his ninth goal of the season tonight. “It’s tough to not come through for your fans.”
“We keep on teaching,” said coach John Tortorella. “We’re going to keep on teaching, and going to keep on plugging away. Correct some defensive breakdowns we had tonight, and hopefully we capitalize. We hit posts, we hit knobs of sticks, Zucc (Mats Zuccarello) himself had three or four grade “A” chances. Hopefully some of those start going in for us and we gain some confidence as far as finishing.”
The Sabres (30-25-7, ninth in East) move to within three points of the Rangers (33-28-4, seventh) in the quickly tightening Eastern Conference playoff picture.
“We had a chance to go seven up on them, now it’s only three,” said forward Brandon Dubinsky. “It’s a bit of a missed opportunity. We just have to try to stay out of the box and keep fighting, find a way to score.”
“Even when we win games, we always try to find ways to pick it apart and focus on something for the next game,” said Christensen. “We’ve been doing some pretty good things, the way it is tonight – we had a couple chances late, not be able to capitalize, we have to score in the third period. We kind of scratched and clawed our way back into it, it just goes through our fingers.”
It wasn’t for a lack of opportunities. After a sluggish opening period, the Rangers turned up the heat on Miller in the second, pounding 16 pucks at the 2010 Olympics Silver Medalist. After Christensen wired a shot in with 6:15 left in the second, Derek Stepan had a wide open net a rebound. But Miller slid across the crease and made a save that left Stepan staring at the famous spoked ceiling.
It was the same story in the third period, during which New York sent ten more shots on Miller, had four more attempts on cage blocked, and sent another four shots wide.
It just wasn’t their night. Again.
“We want some of those bounces to go our way and go into the net,” Dubinsky said. “We have to keep working. There’s no time to get down on ourselves at this point in the season. We just have to keep playing hard, and make sure we keep working and find a way to have those bounces turn our way.”
“We’re one of the best third period teams in the league. Like you saw, we still put a lot of rubber at the net,” Christensen said. “The last minute, the puck rolls off my stick, Miller’s down and out – we created some opportunities, and we didn’t quit. It doesn’t seem like that’s any consolation for any of the guys in the room because we still lost the game.
“We didn’t play bad,” Christensen continued. “But somehow it’s not good enough right now.”
The Rangers were 1-3 on the penalty kill, the first time they’ve allowed two or more power play goals since December 16, when they defeated Phoenix in a shootout.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves in the loss, and is now 4-6-1 in his last 11 games.
Zuccarello hasn’t scored a goal in 17 games. He has nine assists in that span.