New York – For the second time this week, the New York Rangers surrendered seven goals and were outplayed mightily. Tuesday night it was against the Pittsburgh Penguins; tonight it was against the Minnesota Wild 7-4. The Wild, behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, are one of the hottest teams in hockey and showed it at Madison Square Garden tonight. This was also their second game in a back-to-back. They have now won 10 in a row while the Rangers have lost two. The Rangers also suffer their first regulation loss this season when trying to bounce back from a previous loss. They had entered the contest with a 10-0-1 record this season when following a regulation loss.
For a team that needed a two break it was less than stellar performance wise as just one Rangers line showed up to play while the others seemed to have been somewhere else. The game started off very well for the Rangers as they were able to create opportunities early on. Chris Kreider was able to get the Rangers on the board first with a goal nearly four minutes in on a terrific set up play by both Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello. Kreider who would would tally another one later picked up his 10th and 11th goals of the season.
The Wild were able to tie it on a face-off win and just throwing it to the net and it squeezed by goalie Henrik Lundqvist. It was the beginning of what was going to be a rough night for the King. The game was tied after one period, then came the second period that proved to be one of the worst periods played by this Rangers team this season. The Wild would scored two goals in under a minute in period two before Captain Ryan McDonagh was able to get it back within one goal. It was only temporary as the Wild continued to get stronger as the period went on. They tallied three more in the second that also included chasing Lundqvist after surrendering four goals on just thirteen shots.
It was a night to forget if you were a Rangers fan ,or two nights to forget as they saw 14 goals in the last two games go behind two of the games better goaltending tandems.
“[It was] certainly not the way we wanted to go out into Christmas break”, head coach Alain Vigneault went on to say postgame. “There is no excuse for tonight. At the end the day we had one line, Step’s [Derek Stepan’s] line, bringing out their A-game. The rest just weren’t good enough, from goaltender on out. When you play against a team that has won nine games in a row, you have to bring your best and we just had one line going tonight.”
As for giving up 14 goals in two games, the coach went on to say, “This happened the last two games. This has not been a regular occurrence. I don’t intend to make it one. As much as it might have looked like there was a pass on the prior game, there is definitely not a pass on this one here. We need quite a few players to pick up their level. This is a challenging league and to win you better play well and tonight we didn’t have enough guys playing well.”
When saves needed to be made, Lundqvist admitted he needed to make them, “It was just a couple plays that happened where they just cashed in and it happened really quickly. Hockey is like that. Sometimes you don’t know what to expect from each period, you just go out there and try to prepare and play your game, try to make a difference. But I was not able to make those saves in the second to keep it a tie game.”
As for captain Ryan McDonagh, when asked about these past two games he went on to say, “It is what it is. It stings right now the way that our last two games have gone. Obviously we enjoy family time and whatnot with Christmas, but at the end of the day we’re professionals here. We want to take pride in our job and focus on what we can do individually to be better coming back here after this break. We’ve got a lot of games again right in a row and we have the opportunity after the break to start off on a good foot at home. We definitely need to respond here.”
A response indeed is what is needed for the Rangers as they will come out of the break back at Madison Square Garden to take on the Ottawa Senators.
On behalf of Inside Hockey, I’d like to wish our wonderful readers a very Happy Holiday’s.
Chris Kreider registered three points (two goals, one assist), led all skaters – and established a single-game career-high – with eight shots on goal, and tied a single-game career-high with a plus-three rating in 19:26 of ice time. Kreider leads the Rangers in multi-point games this season (seven). He has tallied 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in the last 12 games. Kreider has recorded 10 of his 11 goals and 18 of his 24 points this season in situations when the Rangers have either led by one goal, trailed by one goal, or were tied.
Mats Zuccarello tied a single-game career-high with three assists, recorded four shots on goal, and posted a plus-two rating in 20:07 of ice time. All of Zuccarello’s three assists in the contest were primary assists. He extended his assist/point streak to three games (five assists over the span), and he has recorded 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in the last 11 games. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, 154 of Zuccarello’s 194 points have either been a goal or the primary assist on a goal (79.4% of his points over the span have been primary points).
Derek Stepan recorded three points (one goal, two assists), registered four shots on goal, and posted a plus-two rating in 19:33 of ice time. Stepan extended his point streak to three games (two goals, three assists), and he has registered 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in the last 12 contests. He leads the Blueshirts in assists (19) and points (26) in 2016-17.