After a subpar performance in Boston a night earlier, the New York Rangers struggled once again and were downed 6-3 by the surging Pittsburgh Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist was chased halfway through the second period, and nothing was going right for the Rangers early on.
Arron Asham dropped the gloves just two seconds into his Rangers debut and traded punches with Tanner Glass. Asham took a beating to start out, but rebounded with some solid jabs of his own. An already electric Garden crowd was about to blow the roof off of the building following the fight. Just thirty seconds later, Brad Richards took a very lazy interference call, something the NHL is keeping it's eye on this year, and the Penguins went to their first power play of the night. James Neal snapped home the early power play goal, just a 1:48 into the game, and the Penguins took the early lead, and the momentum.
Nine minutes later, the Penguins took a pair of penalties that gave the Rangers a huge 5-on-3 advantage halfway through the first. After some solid puck movement and getting shots to the net, Ryan Callahan chipped home a rebound on Thomas Vokoun and the game was tied yet again. Everything fell apart nearing the end of the first period.
The Penguins put home two more goals coming from Tyler Kennedy and Matt Niskanen to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission. The Rangers looked out of position in their defensive end, and often got lost in their own zone, as they didn't stick to their positions.
Just nine minutes into the second period, Pascal Dupuis tipped home a point shot from Evgeni Malkin on the power play. That goal signaled the end for Henrik Lundqvist as he got the yank after allowing four goals on 18 shots. Although, you really can't blame Lundqvist for the goals against, as the team in front of him was playing horrid in their own zone. The Rangers put on some early pressure in the second period, but weren't able to generate anything meaningful.
James Neal came away with his second goal of the night on a snap shot in front of Martin Biron, and the Penguins were up 5-1 early on in the third. The Rangers brought some life back into a very down and out crowd as Taylor Pyatt redirected home his first goal as a Ranger to cut the lead to 5-2. Rick Nash took charge and followed up with his first goal as well, coming shorthanded on a nifty breakaway goal that turned Thomas Vokoun inside out. Kris Letang put the finishing touches on the game as his capped off the 6-3 win by adding an empty net with just over a minute to play.
Overall, the Rangers drastically need to improve in their own end, which has been a major problem the last two games. Players aren't sticking to their positions and they are leaving opposing players wide open, which traps them in their zone for minutes on end. The passing also needs to be more crisp. A lot of the passes are either missing completely, or just out of the reach.
The Rangers will have the next two days off to think over their first two games, and work out the remaining kinks that are still lingering. With that said, it's still too early to start panicking. I know in a shortended season that every games means something, but two games won't kill the entire year. This hasn't been the real Rangers we've seen these latest two games. I expect them to rebound against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday evening.