It was very Ranger-like to score just one goal after a seven-tally explosion 24 hours ago, so tonight's 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes was not exactly surprising. It was little mistakes that cost the Blueshirts in this game. They had their chances but could not convert, while meanwhile Carolina took advantage of defensive errors made by New York by putting pucks to the back of the net. It is one of those losses where the Rangers probably felt they could have won if they got off to a better start and played simpler hockey, but there is no changing the past at this point.
It took just 5:39 for the Hurricanes to get on the board when Chad LaRose poked in a Jeff Skinner rebound. On this play, Skinner was allowed to walk right up the middle despite three Rangers checking him. You had both defensemen close in on the rookie, as well as a backchecking Zuccarello, yet he somehow was still able to get the shot off. Meanwhile, LaRose was left wide open since both defensemen were defending Skinner, so he easily snuck in and tucked in the loose puck behind Henrik Lundqvist.
Jussi Jokinen, at 14:43 of the first, deflected home a Joe Corvo blast on the powerplay to make it 2-0 ‘Canes. Now here the blame is on Dan Girardi for allowing Jokinen to sneak behind him and plant himself in front of the crease. After the goal was scored, you could even see Lundqvist look back at Girardi and say something while shaking his head in disgust. That was defensive mistake number two that cost the Rangers.
About six minutes into the second period, Brandon Sutter's breakaway goal gave the Hurricanes a 3-0 advantage over New York. This play started in Carolina's zone, where the puck was turned over by the Rangers. Sutter was Anisimov's man and at center ice Anisimov simply couldn't keep up and allowed him to break in on Lundqvist uncontested. Anisimov has to stay with Sutter there, because by the time Marc Staal saw him breaking in he was nowhere in position to defend since he was covering the winger entering on the far side.
The Rangers finally got on the board in the third period when Brandon Prust ended Cam Ward's shutout bid with a nifty wrister at the 11:40 mark. Both Ryan McDonagh and Chad Kolarik picked up assists on that goal, which means they each registered their first NHL point. Jeff Skinner (who else?) ended any hopes the Rangers had of a comeback, though, netting his seventeenth of the season four minutes later. Again, Skinner was Stepan's man, but Derek was fought off, allowing Skinner to tap-in the beautiful pass from LaRose.
And that was all she wrote for this tilt, as the buzzer sounded with the score at 4-1.
Continue reading after the jump....
I made it pretty clear in the recap portion of this postgame analysis that defensive mistakes cost the Rangers the game. However, we did not talk about New York's offensive efforts tonight. Although they scored only one goal, they were not completely invisible. They registered a total of 40 shots in the game, but give credit to Cam Ward and the Carolina defense, because there were not many second and third opportunities for the Rangers to capitalize on.
Ward was unbelievable in net, first off all, but the Rangers were pushed to the outside on the rush by the Hurricane D corps. They did a good job of getting the puck to the net despite that, but like I said, there were not many rebounds to pounce on.
One positive to take out of this is that recent call-up Chad Kolarik was excellent. He had four shots on goal, but I was more impressed with his playmaking abilities. The kid has great vision and is noticeably smart. If he continues to play like this, he will be up for a while.
Artem Anisimov was also a standout on offense. Get this - he had seven shots on goal. That is very high for a single game. He was definitely gripping his stick tight by the end of the game because he just could not solve Cam Ward. Wojtek Wolski also through five pucks to the net, and I am noticing that he is getting more minutes each game.
Henrik Lundqvist did not play bad at all. He was left out to dry often and I think the only goal he would like back was the LaRose one since he let Skinner's shot sneak behind him. As for the others, you cannot expect him to make those saves.
So this is a disappointing loss, sure, but not the end of the world by any means. They were sloppy defensively and that is something that can quickly be corrected. Hopefully it will be corrected in time for Saturday's game against the Thrashers in Atlanta, because that is yet another contest in which key points in the standings will be up for grabs.