It appears as the New York Rangers have become accustomed to alternating wins and loss over this last stretch of games. One night you have a Rangers team that is hungry, and never lets their foot off of the gas, while other nights are complete meltdowns. Tonight was a combination of both, as the Rangers started out this game with a ton of jump, and even scored an early goal to take a 1-0 lead. However, as the game progressed on they continued to make mistake after mistake, and it eventually cost them in the third period.
As mentioned above, the New York Rangers came firing right out of the gate in this game, and were rewarded with the games first goal. As you've probably seen floating around Twitter, the Rangers have a ridiculous winning record when they come away with the first goal. Over these last three games, the Rangers have choked away leads in the third period, which haven't really happened all that much.
I mean, as of right now, these leads are hard to come by as it is, and the Rangers are shooting themselves in the foot late in games. Mats Zuccarello got the crowd into this one early with a redirection goal from a Ryan McDonagh point shot, which Ondrej Pavelec didn't have much a chance on. The Rangers went on to double up the Jets on shots for the rest of the period, but nothing else came of their chances.
The second period was went it started to get ugly. When the Rangers stepped onto the ice for the second period, it was like they were a completely different team. They were making sloppy passes, not controlling the puck, and were giving the Jets numerous odd-man rushes. It was only a matter of time before they finally broke through, and it came twice in two minutes.
Devin Setoguchi knotted up the game just eight minutes into the second period off of a beautiful feed from Olli Jokinen. It was a perfect seam pass that made it's way between everyone, and prevent Michael Del Zotto from making a play on it. To his defense though, he played it just as he should, and it was a perfectly placed shot by Setoguchi.
Just two minutes later, John Albert gave Winnipeg their first lead of the evening, as he netted his first career NHL goal in his first career game. That's another thing that's starting to become a trend for the Rangers, giving up first career goals. This goal came as a result of Derick Brassard having a brain fail moment, and passed right up the middle of the ice with a 4-on-2 coming into the offensive zone. He had all the time in the world to slow up, and make up a play, but he elected otherwise.
We've rarely seen Brassard make that blatant of a mistake this season, and I'm sure he's beating himself up about it. As things started to look bleak for the Rangers, their captain rallied the troops and they were able to will their way back into the game. Brad Richards had a golden opportunity along the goal line, which he tossed back in front, hoping to bank the puck off of the goaltender. Luckily enough, Ryan Callahan read the play perfectly, crashed the crease, and picked up the loose puck in a crowd of Jets.
Callahan has been due for one of these "dirty" goals, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Things started looking up for the Rangers, as they closed out the final minutes with some good shifts, which looked to set up a good finish.
However, the Rangers looked like absolute garbage in the third period, which result in the Jets taking over the game completely. In the final half of the third, the Jets were able to pile on three goals, two of which came from Olli Jokinen. Blake Wheeler eventually put the icing on the cake late in the game, and put it all away with an empty net goal.
This was yet another frustrating loss to an inferior opponent, something that has become pretty common this year. The Rangers haven't found their consistency level as of yet, and will need to do so pretty quickly. Especially with the next handful of games coming on home ice. If you can't win on home ice, you don't have much of a shot at anything. Let's hope Thursday brings a bit more of success.