Another game and another loss for the New York Rangers, who are now 0-4-0 against the Penguins this season and have lost three straight games in which they have only scored two goals. Both of those goals coming from Artem Anisimov tonight, but that would be as much offense as the Rangers would generate in their 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh. This game didn't have much of a feel until the third period when the overall pace picked up, but once again, nothing doing in the offensive end for our hometown boys.
The Rangers did not get off to the start that they may have wanted in the first period of this game, as it took just under three minutes for Sidney Crosby to find Chris Conner, who was just called up on Monday, wide open and uncontested in the slot. Conner ripped a wristshot over the shoulder of Lundqvist, who was deep in his crease, to give the Penguins an early 1-0 advantage. The biggest problem on this play is the fact that not one player in the blue jerseys, forward or defensemen, decided to step up and close the gap between themselves and the puck carrier. This has been one of the many problems on defense this season, as the New York blueline continues to be exposed in all areas of the ice. The Rangers did generate some chances towards the conclusion of the period, but Marc-Andre Fleury stood strong in net for the Pens after returning from a broken ring finger injury that kept him out for four games.
The second period saw the Blueshirts come out with a much better effort than we saw in the first. Artem Anisimov's nifty tally at 13:04 of the second stanza ended a 156:32 scoring drought for the Rangers and tied the game at one. While the effort may have been better, the Penguins controlled the pace of play with a quick transition and ability to walk into the offensive zone at will. One thing the Rangers did do well on defense was block shots, but even still, Henrik Lundqvist had to be stellar while shutting the door on two Evgeni Malkin semi-breakaways. If it were not for good ol' Hank, this tilt probably would not have been a tie at this point in the tilt.
The third period brought along much excitement as four goals were exchanged between the two teams. John Tortorella's club managed to do absolutely nothing on six minutes worth of powerplay time, but right after, Artem Anismov would sneak a shot from the goal-line past Fleury to make the score 2-1 in favor of the home team. Marian Gaborik followed that up with a slashing penalty, which cost the Rangers being that Evgeni Malkin's howitzer, which looked like it deflected off of a sliding Drury, beat Lundqvist to tie things up at two. Chris Conner capitalized on a Sidney Crosby rebound exactly a minute later by sending a sharp-angled spin shot into the back of the net for what would be the game winner. Former Ranger Pascal Dupuis poured salt in the wound by depositing the empty netter at the end of that period, leaving you with a final score of 4-2.
This was a so-so outing for goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Henrik made 24 saves on 27 shots but I felt the game-winner (Conner's rebound) should have been stopped, but even before that, Crosby's shot should have been handled, never leaving the golden rebound sitting there for Conner. At the same time, Team Sweden's to-be backbone in the upcoming Olympics kept the Rangers in this one when the defense was getting shredded by the beautiful rushes by Pittsburgh. That started with the Penguins transition, which like I said, was superb.
Continue Reading After the Jump>>Speaking of that defense, it is a clear struggle for them to come up with a 60-minute effort. At times, they can be clutch with their ability to block shots like they did in the second period of this one. On the other hand, they could be atrocious by somehow allowing two Penguin breakaways while they were on the powerplay. Sure, you can say it is because they are young and somewhat inexperienced, but the veterans in Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival are just as much to blame as the rookies are. If someway this team does make the playoffs, I am nervous to see how the defense will look in games where they will have to play tight and shutdown key opponents.
Artem Anisimov skated extremely well tonight, making the most of his 12:43 of icetime by scoring two goals and registering a total of six shots on goal. It's funny that the New York Post's Larry Brooks stated in Monday's column that Artem should be sent down to Hartford (AHL), and then the rookie center plays one of his best games of the season. I am sure it is just a coincidence, but there is a slight bit of irony there. Anyway, we have seen Anisimov score goals like his first one he did on Fleury tonight, but we have not seen that consistently from the hopeful Russian.
I also thought Marian Gaborik, one goal in his last ten games, was very active tonight. During his slump, Marian has gone through stretches where he is somewhat invisible, but on this night he was all over the place. The Slovakian native had five shots on goal in over 18 minutes of icetime, but on the downside, was on the ice for two Penguin goals in addition to one he watched from the penalty box. You know he will break out of this at some point, but the question is when.
So the Rangers certainly did not play as poorly as they did during the 6-0 mess in Montreal on Saturday, but this was more a loss because of little mistakes such as failure to close gaps in the defensive zone, inability to get a strong forecheck going, and a lack-luster powerplay. I feel like I sit here and list the same things for you guys night in and night out, but when you get right down to it, the Blueshirts continue to make the same mistakes.
They will look to possibly turn things around on Wednesday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden. The Canes are, without question, a club in which the Rangers should find a way to defeat, but you simply cannot predict anymore with this team. We will see what happens come Wednesday, but hey, at least they actually found the back of the net tonight.
NEW YORK RANGERS POST-GAME NOTES
January 25, 2010 - New York Rangers 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 4 (Game #53, Home #28)
- The Rangers were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-2, tonight at Madison Square Garden, and are now 10-6-4 in their last 20 games.
- The Blueshirts have now posted a record of 24-22-7 (55 pts.) overall, including a 12-12-4 (28 pts.) mark at home this season.
- Rookie forward Artem Anisimov recorded his first career multi-goal game with two goals and established a career-high with six shots on net; he also won a team-high 11 faceoffs in 15 attempts for a success rate of 73%.
- Christopher Higgins tallied the primary assist on Anisimov's goal at 13:04 of the second period, and finished with a plus-two rating in 18:35 of icetime; he has now registered three points (one goal and two assists) in the last four games, and has posted a plus or even rating in eight of the last nine games for a plus-three rating over the span.
- Enver Lisin registered one assist and a plus-two rating in 10:51 of icetime; the plus-two rating tied his season-high (Oct. 24 at Montreal); Lisin has now recorded two points (one goal and one assist) and a plus-two rating in the last four games.
- Defenseman Dan Girardi recorded an assist on Anisimov's goal at 3:15 of the third period, and logged 19:42 of icetime; Girardi has tallied two points (one goal and one assist) in the last four games, and has posted a plus or even rating in eight of the last 12 for a plus-three rating during the stretch.
- Ryan Callahan registered six hits and four shots on goal in 19:20 of icetime while skating in his 200th career NHL game.
- Marc Staal led the team with a personal season-high seven hits, and tied for the team-high with 23:12 of icetime.
- The Blueshirts practice schedule for tomorrow, Jan. 26, is 12:00 p.m. at the MSG Training Center.
- The Rangers return to action when they will face-off against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in their fourth and final meeting this season; the game will be televised live on MSG Network and can be heard on 1050 ESPN Radio.
John Tortorella on Artem Anisimov...
"He has played well. Although he has not put up a lot of numbers, he has really. He is one of the guys I am using quite a bit away from the puck, late in games. His defensive awareness has really improved. As he grows and gets stronger, he is just a kid, he is going to be a very good player."
Henrik Lundqvist on tonight's game...
"This one was painful. We battled back and it was a pretty good game. In the second period we played pretty well and we came out in the third and kept it going. I don't know what to say. That was bad timing , when we got that penalty, they get a lucky goal on a deflection off our player. We have had a bunch of these games this year. It could be a different story if we manage to win these games. We have a tough time winning games like this but we definitely played a lot better than the last two games. That is a good thing."
Brandon Dubinsky on the 2nd intermission...
"I thought we were good here in the room and we knew we just had to fight for another 20 minutes out there to try and get 2 points. Arty (Artem Anisimov) scores a big goal there, but we have to respond after that. It starts with my line. We have to make sure we are strong defensively, especially when it's tough to put pucks in the net. We have to make sure we are doing our jobs and try and keep confident here. From now on we have to try and stay confident and believe in what we got here. We have to believe in what we can do and get over this."