NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Luke Schenn #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Sean Avery #16 of the New York Rangers exchange shoves at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2011 in New York City. The Leafs defeated the Rangers 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers dropped only their second regulation loss at home this season, 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs were the only team to be the Rangers in regulation, on home ice, and did so this evening once again.
Just six minutes in the game, Cody Franson notched his second of the season on a slap shot from the slot. The Rangers had a sloppy start to this game, which led to the eventual Franson goal. The Rangers seemed much slower than the Leafs to start the game, and were often scrambling in their own end. The Maple Leafs were able to capitalize on another early period chance to widen the lead to 2-0.
For the second straight period, the Rangers had given up an early goal, they needed a change. As if it wasn't bad enough, Joffrey Lupul added a power play goal just over a minute later. With multiple scoring changes, the Rangers were finally able to get on the board. Artem Anisimov snapped a shot over the shoulder of Jonas Gustavsson to cut the lead to 3-1.
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Both David Steckel and Tyler Bozak took penalties just 52 second apart, which gave the Rangers a golden opportunity to get back into the game. Derek Stepan would eventually make an incredible pass to Marian Gaborik, who was sitting on the post for the tap in. The Rangers finally had some life, and went into the locker room down by a goal.
In the third period, there was a series of events that were pretty scary to witness. Dion Phaneuf stepped up on Michael Sauer as he dumped in the puck, and caught him with a huge hit. Sauer remained down on the ice for several seconds before skating off under his own power. He did not return to the game. Shortly after, Michael Del Zotto got tangled up with a Leaf player, and went crashing hard into the end boards. Del Zotto also remained down for several minutes, before returning to the bench. However, Del Zotto did not miss a shift, and was right back out there when he name was called.
Tyler Bozak took another hooking call in the third period, which gave the Rangers another chance to tie the game. Unfortunately they were unable to to do, and continued to play down by one. The Rangers had several late chances coming from Ryan Callahan who somehow missed the net from in close. Artem Anisimov took a late hooking call, and that all but did it for the Rangers. However, Clarke MacArthur took a high-sticking penalty shortly after, which evened it up at 4-on-4.
With the goalie pulled, the Rangers were able to get some great chances, but weren't able to find the back of the net. David Steckel added the empty net goal for the Leafs, and they went on to win the game 4-2. The Rangers started the game slow, and also had some flaws early in the third period. While it's always nice to win, you just can't win them all.
The Rangers will face-off next, against the Tampa Bay Lightning, this Thursday at MSG. On a brighter note, the Pittsburgh Penguins also dropped their game 3-1, to the Boston Bruins. With that said, the Rangers still remain three points behind them for the division lead.