Another one of these. It's become quite common for the Rangers to "run out of time" in the third period as Sam Rosen always puts it. The urgency is not there for the entire tilt, only in the final few minutes, and even though they were able to find that crucial tying goal earlier in the year, they haven't been so lucky as of late. It's almost like watching the same movie over and over again, because at some point you just know how it is going to end. That's what it felt like watching this afternoon's 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden.
The Bolts got on the board five minutes into the game when Marty St. Louis' one-timer on the rush flew right through the wickets of Henrik Lundqvist. It was a quick play and Lundqvist was moving when the shot was coming his way, but I felt that the All-Star goaltender could have stopped that one. If it was a high shot, no way, but it was right through his legs. Stick should have been down, but that's just my opinion.
New York failed to convert on three straight powerplays in the first period, but it was the parade to the box for the Blueshirts that ended up costing them the game. The Rangers were called for six straight penalties - some good calls, some not - but the penalty-kill was spectacular. The Rangers' only goal came shorthanded when Brandon Prust found a way to fight off a check and score on a breakaway. Credit goes to Ryan McDonagh for the perfect outlet pass on that play.
The Lightning were handed a 5-on-3 advantage early in the third stanza, and similar to the first Tampa goal, they were able to find the back of the net on a bang-bang play. St. Louis slid the puck through the high slot to a wide-open Vinny Lecavalier, who absolutely blasted a slapper top shelf. Unlike the first period tally, Lundqvist had no chance at all of saving that rocket.
Down 2-1, the Rangers brought their game to another level, doing all they could to tie it in the final minutes. They had a couple of good plays off the faceoff, including a set-up to newly acquired Bryan McCabe that almost did the trick, but Dwayne Roloson made some amazing saves between the pipes for the Bolts. And, as Sam Rosen is becoming famous for saying, the Rangers simply "ran out of time".
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Lundqvist played well enough that he gave the team a chance to win the game, especially when shorthanded. Once again he received a lot of help from the defensive squad in front of him and that limited the number of shots he faced to only 19. He'd probably like that first goal back, as could be seen by the look on his face after it went in, but the game didn't come down to that. No way.
It was all about the penalties, which at least half of them I felt were not even penalties. Take, for example, the "interference" call on Brandon Dubinsky in the third period. Interference? It looked much more like a collision to me. Coach Tortorella was irate after that one and I cannot blame him.
It's a shame when the officials decide such a close contest like this with weak calls. Let the players play; don't try to steal the spotlight.
Defenseman Bryan McCabe was impressive in his Ranger debut. For not practicing with the team yet and not even getting a chance to sit down with Tortorella for a while, I thought he looked pretty damn good out there. There was undoubtedly some confusion in the final minutes there as to where he should be on the faceoff, but he communicates well with his mates and that helped.
For the most part he was in good position and had a few nice hits in the defensive zone. On the powerplay, I saw several times that he was calling for the puck so he could take the shot. Can you imagine? A point-man that wants to shoot the puck?! He's going to be a great fight here, I can already tell, and I love that quite a few times he could be seen pumping up the bench. That's great.
The Rangers had a big opportunity to gain some ground on the sixth place Montreal Canadiens this afternoon, but they failed to do so. This one hurts, but thankfully they take the ice again on Tuesday when they host the Buffalo Sabres at MSG.