Win Streak Snapped at 3 as Rangers Lose to Habs

Going into last night’s game against the Canadiens in Montreal, it was understandable to think that the Rangers had their work cut out for them. The Habs had the best record in the Eastern Conference at 6-1-0. The Canadiens were playing at home at the Bell Centre, where they were 3-0 for the season. The Blueshirts were facing Montreal for the first time since beating them in last spring’s Eastern Conference Finals. And Montreal’s goaltender Carey Price was healthy again and playing well.

It all proved to be too much, as Price stopped 34 shots and Montreal beat the Rangers, 3-1.

Before Saturday’s game, fans observed a moment of silence to honor Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, two Canadian soldiers who were killed in separate attacks this week in Ottawa and Quebec.

The Rangers gave up a shorthanded goal to Tomas Plekanec midway through the 1st period, to trail 1-0. Carl Hagelin then evened the score with about three minutes to go in the period, on a rebound off a Dan Girardi shot.

Lars Eller broke a tie midway through the second period, to give Montreal a 2-1 lead, and Max Pacioretty added a goal in the third to seal the win.

The Rangers are 4-4-0 on the season; 2-2-0 at home and 2-2-0 on the road. They start a four-game home stand Monday night against Minnesota.

Rangers Face Canadiens in Montreal Tonight

The Rangers are back in action tonight, on the road in Montreal to face the Canadiens. They’ve been idle since Tuesday night’s overtime win over New Jersey in Newark. The Blueshirts [4-3-0] are riding a three-game winning streak and face the Habs for the first time since the Eastern Conference Finals, when New York eliminated Montreal in six games.

The Canadiens, also riding a three-game winning streak, have the best record in the Eastern Conference, at 6-1-0 [12 pts].

19-year-old Anthony Duclair, a native of Montreal, will be back in coach Alain Vigneault‘s lineup after sitting out the past two games.

Rick Nash leads the team in scoring with eight goals and nine points; he is now 2nd in the NHL in goals; Anaheim’s Corey Price scored a hat trick Wednesday and added a goal last night and leads the NHL with nine.

Klein Goal Lifts Rangers to OT Win

Down 3-1 to the Devils in the 3rd period last night, it felt like it wasn’t going to be New York’s night. But the Rangers picked themselves off the mat, so to speak, and rallied for a 4-3 overtime win across the Hudson in Newark. Kevin Klein‘s goal, off a beautiful pass from Chris Krieder, was the game-winner.  It was New York’s third straight win, and pushed them above .500 for the first time in nearly two weeks.

The Rangers got on the board in the 1st period on a goal from Kreider; Amazingly, it was the team’s first power-play goal of the year, after an 0-for-17 start in the first six games. The Devils tied it later in the 1st on a power-play goal by the ageless, 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr.

The Devils added two more power-play goals [Adam Henrique in the 2nd, Jon Merrill in the 3rd] to make it 3-1. Chris Mueller cut the score to 3-2 on another power-play goal [five power-play goals in this game!], and Rick Nash tied the score at 14:32 on a backhander in front of the net. It was Nash’s NHL-leading 8th goal of the season; he didn’t score his 8th goal last season until January 6th. NHL Player of the Month for October, anyone?

Henrik Lunqvist got the win in net for the Rangers, stopping 28 of 31 shots.

The Rangers are off until Saturday, when they take the ice in Montreal against the Canadiens.


Lundqvist, Rangers Blank Sharks

One could argue that Sunday night’s 4-0 win over San Jose was the Rangers’ best performance of the season thus far.

One could counter by saying it was an October home win again a team the Rangers should beat.

Henrik Lunqvist stopped 33 shots, and the Blueshirts scored two goals in a four-second span of the 2nd period, on their way to their 2nd straight win. They evened their record for the season at 3-3-0.

The first period was scoreless, but did feature a nice play from Matt Hunwick, who saved a goal by swatting away a puck that had gotten past Lundqvist before it crossed the goal line.

Carl Hagelin made it 1-0 Rangers at the 13:10 mark of the 2nd period, and Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash scored four seconds apart in the period’s final minute. That tied the record for fastest back-to-back goals in team history. It was Nash’s NHL-leading 7th goal of the season; the winger scored when Sharks goalie Alex Stalock came out too far to stop a long Nash shot and misplayed the puck. Nash put the rebound past him for a 3-0 New York lead.

Kevin Hayes scored the Rangers’ final goal, in the 3rd period; it was his first goal of the season.

Lunqvist looked sharp and posted his 51st career shutout.

The Rangers are back in action Tuesday night, in Newark, against the Devils.


Rangers Snap Losing Streak, Top Hurricanes in Shootout

Exhale, Rangers fans.

Yes, it was a home win over the injury-depleted Carolina Hurricanes, but a win is a win. Rick Nash scored the winning goal in a shootout and Henrik Lundqvist came up big when it counted, as the Blueshirts recorded a 2-1 win over Carolina last night at the Garden, to snap a three-game losing streak.

Trailing 1-0 midway through the third period, Derick Brassard scored his third goal of the season – and third in the last three games – to tie the score. Neither team scored in overtime, and in the shootout, Nash was the only skater to score, which was enough for the Rangers to post their first home win of the season.

After allowing 17 goals in the last three games, the defense seemed like a more cohesive unit.  Head coach Alain Vigneault juggled his defensive lineup Thursday; the pairing were Dan Girardi-Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein-Marc Staal, Matt Hunwick-John Moore. After the game, Staal told the media, “We were better in our end. We didn’t give up as many quality chances in the middle of the ice, so we were better that way. We won a game. We got two points.”

Lundqvist, who had allowed six goals in back-to-back games, had 29 saves. He lowered his GAA from 5.41 to 4.09.

One troubling stat; the Rangers are now 0-for-16 on the power play for the season, after going 0-for-5 Thursday.

Next up: after two days off, the Rangers will host San Jose Sunday afternoon at 5pm.

Defense Must Respond as Rangers Face Hurricanes Tonight

The Rangers, in the midst of a three-game losing streak, take the ice against Carolina tonight at the Garden. The Blueshirts, 1-3-0 on the season, have given up 17 goals in the three losses, so the team’s six defensemen and goalie Henrik Lundqvist are probably feeling a sense of feeling an urgency to put up a good showing in from of the Garden faithful.  [To be fair, Cam Talbot was the goalie in the first of the losses, at Columbus last Saturday. Lundqvist was between the pipes for the losses to Toronto and the Islanders].

Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Kevin Klein, John Moore and Matt Hunwick will be Alain Vigneault‘s six defensemen tonight against the Hurricanes. Wednesday Vigneault told the media, “Way too many turnovers from our defense group right now. Right now that group is really playing under par.”

An understatement.

Losing Streak at 3 as Rangers Fall to Isles

A tough few days for the Rangers got tougher last night, as they lost at home to the New York Islanders, 6-3. The Blueshirts have now lost three straight and have looked bad in those losses. There’s a got to be a growing sense of concern, not only in the locker room, but in the front office, and in the stands.

The teams were tied 2-all after two periods. Rick Nash continued his white-hot start to the season, scoring an unassisted goal from a tough angle in the 1st period, his 5th goal of the season. Derick Brassard scored his 2nd goal of the year in the 2nd.

Then the Islanders exploded in the 3rd, scoring four times against Henrik Lundqvist, before Nash added another goal in the game’s final minutes [his 6th]. Lundqvist has now given up six goals in each of the last two games, and has a 5.41 GAA for the season.

The defense has given up 17 goals in the past three games, the last two of those games at home, where the defense and the team are usually strong. Coach Alain Vigneault must keep trying to figure out a combination of defenders that will mesh, to stop the recent onslaught of goals each game. Hard to win in the NHL when you give up 5 or 6 goals a night.

The Rangers are back in action Thursday night, at home against Carolina.



Malone, Kostka To Play Tonight vs Islanders

The Rangers take on the New York Islanders tonight [7:00pm on MSG], and two new Rangers will make the season debuts. 34-year-old winger Ryan Malone, who was signed as a free agent September 11th, will take the ice for the first time as a Ranger, as will defenseman Michael Kostka, who was called up from Hartford to help out, after the injury to Dan Boyle. Mats Zuccarello is expected back, after missing Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury.

Looking at the projected lineups for tonight, one eyebrow-raising line change: 19-year-old rookie Anthony Duclair will skate with Martin St. Louis and red-hot Rick Nash on the team’s #1 line. Nash has four goals in the team’s first four games.


Lost Weekend

Sunday night at the Garden began with such promise. It was the Rangers 2014-15 home opener, against the winless Toronto Maple Leafs. They raised the 2013-14 Eastern Conference Championship banner to the Garden rafters. The suddenly red-hot Rick Nash scored his 4th goal in the season’s first three games. And the Blueshirts were tied with Toronto 1-1 after one period.

And then it all came crashing down. The Leafs scored five goals in the 2nd period, including two goals in a :48 span. The offensive barrage sent goalie Henrik Lundqvist to the bench with 4:47 to play in the period, as the Rangers would go on to lose 6-3.

Toronto’s Phil Kessel, who had a goal and two assists, was named the game’s #1 star. Lee Stempniak and Derick Brassard had the other goals for New York.

The team missed defenseman Dan Boyle, who broke his hand Thursday at St. Louis and is out for 4-6 weeks. And missed the speed of Mats Zuccarello, who hurt his shoulder Saturday at Columbus. And the centering skills of Derek Stepan continue to be missed. He’s still got another month before his return.

After the game, there was little finger-pointing. Captain Ryan McDonagh told the media, “We’re trying to find our game, find our rhythm. It’s there in spurts, very little spurts, but as a whole we need everybody to get in sync here.”

Nash left the game after the 2nd period, to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple’s first child, and apparently went into labor during the game.

Coming on the heels of Saturday night’s 5-2 loss at Columbus, the Rangers are now 1-2-0 after the season’s first three games, and they host the Islanders Tuesday night at the Garden.




Rangers Fall to Blue Jackets; Play Home Opener Tonight

The Rangers were in Columbus Saturday night to face the Blue Jackets, and came away with a 5-2 loss. Columbus jumped out to a 2-0 1st period lead and never looked back. Cam Atkinson had two goals for Columbus, including an empty-netter late, Nick Foligno and Marko Dano each had a goal and an assist, and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves in the win.

There were some positives for the Rangers: Rick Nash, who played eight seasons for Columbusscored again, his third goal in two games, and 19-year-old Anthony Duclair had his first two career assists. The team is 8-for-8 killing penalties in two games.

Two noteworthy negatives: the team is 0-6 for the season on the power play, and they’ve had 44 minutes of penalties in two games. Chris Kreider had a ten-minute misconduct Saturday, coming to the defense of Mats Zuccarello.

Backup goalie Cam Talbot got the start, and made 19 saves in the loss. I’m going to guess that with the Rangers playing on back-to-back nights, Talbot got the start against Columbus so that Henrik Lundqvist could start in goal in the team’s home opener Sunday.

The Rangers skate against Toronto Sunday at 7:00pm ET at the Garden, the first of four straight games at home.