NEW YORK – The New York Rangers were the dominating team in the original six match-up against the Detroit Red Wings. Jimmy Howard, goaltender for the Red Wings stole the show however. The Rangers threw 33 shots at Howard but old ways came back to bite the Rangers.
The start for the Rangers was exactly what you wanted to see. A good pace and creating chances early. Before many of the Blueshirt faithful sat down for the prime time game, the Rangers were on the board. Mika Zibanejad picked up his second goal of the young season at the 1:09 mark of the opening period.
The Rangers were firing away at Howard, who, was making his first start of the season. Howard faced 14 shots in period one and looked sharp as did his fellow counterpart Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers. For Lundqvist, you can say he had a Martin Brodeur type night as far as shots seen. Just seven in the first two periods and only four in period three.
It was however, an unfortunate play that Lundqvist misplayed a puck just 59 seconds in period three to prove to be the difference maker as Detroit went ahead 2-1.
After the game, head coach Alain Vigneault looked at the positives, “I liked our process tonight. I like the way we are playing. We are not giving up much to the opposition. We are definitely generating some great opportunities. Unfortunately, tonight we hit a hot goaltender [Jimmy Howard]. We had five or six breakaways that we were unable to finish. Give him credit, he played a real solid game.”
Opposing head coach Jeff Blashill agreed essentially by saying, “I thought Jimmy stole the game, I thought Jimmy had one of the best performances I’ve seen out of any goalie at any level. As I said, Jimmy stole the game and we found a way to get points”.
As for Lundqvist, you can clearly tell he was frustrated because he felt his team was the better team tonight.
“Every loss is tough especially when you feel like you should have won”, Lundqvist said. “After 40 minutes, it felt like we should have been up a few goals and really just put this game away, but sometimes this happens where you have wide open chances and it kind of just bounces the wrong way. Then I make a bad read there behind the net, but I’m not going to stop going behind the net. I think I help the D a lot with the way I play the puck. Just in that situation it was not good enough.”
The Rangers failed on numerous opportunities to go up by a lot. They had breakaway chances that the “stone wall” of Howard shut down, they had power play opportunities they could not capitalize on. There were many chances for the Rangers they could not finish on.
Newly assigned alternate captain Rick Nash when asked about not being able to score more goals he stated, “Any time you are at home and you get an early goal, you definitely want to pour it on. It makes it tough for a road team to come back from. I think it came down to special teams tonight. We need to do a better job on that.”
The Rangers will now head on to face the Washington Capitals on Saturday night with some positives to build on, but facing the Capitals is never easy – unless its a game seven.
The Rangers registered 33 shots on goal in tonight’s contest, as 12 different skaters recorded at least one shot on goal. New York has recorded at least 30 shots on goal in three of four games this season and has outshot its opponents, 136-95, thus far in 2016-17 (34.0 shots on goal per game and 23.8 shots on goal against per game).
The Blueshirts won 33 of 57 faceoffs in tonight’s game (57.9%) and have won 138 of 246 faceoffs this season (56.1%).
Chris Kreider notched an assist and led all skaters with five hits in tonight’s game. Kreider extended his assist streak and his point streak to four games. Kreider’s four-game assist streak is a career-high, while his four-game point streak is tied for his career-high. He leads the Rangers in goals (three), assists (four), and points (seven) in 2016-17.
J.T. Miller skated in his 200th career NHL game in tonight’s contest.