Another winnable game on the line, and yet another loss in the loss column. The New York Rangers fell to the Winnipeg Jets tonight by a score of 3-1. The Rangers dug themselves into an early hole by taking a penalty just a minute into the game, and were a step behind since than. They were able to tie things up, but with a little bit of a puck luck, the Jets took a 2-1 lead, and never looked back.
Michael Del Zotto was the recipient of the earlier penalty, which sent the Winnipeg Jets to their first power play of the game. Nik Antropov capitalized on the rebound in front of Henrik Lundqvist, as he was left all alone by the Rangers defenders. Lundqvist really had no chance on the play, as he was left out to dry, and Antropov slammed home the easy rebound goal. It definitely wasn't the type of start the New York Rangers wanted, especially in a game that could and did knock them out of playoff contention.
A few minutes after the goal, Micheal Haley and Mark Stuart dropped the gloves in the Winnipeg zone, and exchanged a few punches. It was a well time fight by Haley, who took it upon himself to wake up his teammates who were completely flat to start the game. Apparently it worked, as the Rangers began to pick up the pressure throughout the second half of the period, and really started to sustain some offensive zone pressure.
That pressure would carry right over into the second period, as the Ryan Callahan redirected home the puck just over a minute into the second period. Ryan Callahan always seems to be the guy that helps his team rebound, and that's exactly what he wears that big "C" on his chest. He did it here again tonight, and got the Rangers going. The tie would only last until the final six minutes of the period as Antti Miettinen had a puck deflect off of his body, and crawled its way over the goal line. If you want to talk about a team having puck luck, that's the exact type of goal this was. It was a simple shot thrown on net by Dustin Byfuglien, took a strange bounce in front, and all of a sudden Winnipeg takes the one goal lead. Again, nothing Lundqvist could really do on this one either, as you really can't control crappy bounces.
After picking it up somewhat in the second period, the Rangers were absolutely flat in the third period, and were only able to put forth seven shots throughout the final 20 minutes. The Winnipeg Jets did a good job of locking down the neutral zone, and preventing the Rangers from creating any serious scoring chances. Andrew Ladd eventually added the empty net goal which capped things off with about 40 seconds remaining in regulation. The Rangers did have some decent pressure with the extra attacker, but the Jets were able to collapse and march up us for the icing on the cake.
The Rangers are no out of playoff position as the Winnipeg Jets passed them with that victory tonight, and are on the outside looking in once again. The last two games were games that the Rangers should have easily come away with four points in, and instead they escaped with absolutely nothing. They have only scored a total of two goals over their last two games, as the offense continues to struggle once again.
There are only 22 games left in this shortened season before we head into the playoffs, and the Rangers are still showing some serious signs of weakness. Hopefully this is figured out, especially with the Rangers going up against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon. If there's any bigger game left on the schedule, it's Saturday at 1:00 PM. Let's hope it's a different outcome than tonight.