Rangers Vs. Leafs Recap: Despite Third Period Comeback, Rangers Fall 4-3 to Maple Leafs

USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers were able to make a comeback in the third period, but a defensive lapse cost them the game just 39 seconds later.

Well that sure is one of the most disappointing losses of the season right there. Down two goals heading into the third period, tie it up in the third, and only to have that entire effort wiped away in 39 seconds. The Rangers were terribly sloppy in their own end all game, and they left Henrik Lundqvist out to dry on a few of the goals.

With the Rangers playing their fourth game in five nights, it was expected that the Rangers would be dragging their legs at some point. It looked that way in the first period as the Maple Leafs jumped out and grabbed the momentum in the first several minutes. The Rangers were able to get back on track, and generate some pretty good scoring chances, but it wasn't enough to beat James Reimer just yet. A little over halfway through the game, the Leafs took the first lead of the game as James van Reimsdyk chipped home a loose puck after taking several whacks at it. Henrik Lundqvist made a great first save, and was able to keep the puck out of the net. But unfortunately, there was no one in front to help him out, and van Reimsdyk kept jamming away until the puck finally crossed the line.

The Rangers began to settle it down a bit in the second period, but they still weren't able to get anything by Reimer, who was red hot to start the game off. Yet another bad defensive lapse would eventually lead to the second Maple Leafs goal. Michael Del Zotto, who was fantastic over the last week and a half, finally came back down to earth tonight. He pinched in to make a play at the blue line, only to have it chipped over his stick, and back the other way for a 2-on-1 rush. Dan Girardi was the lone man back, and made a desperation attempt to slide and take away the passing land. However, Nazem Kadri made a perfect saucer pass over Girardi's stick and right to Ryan O'Byrne who ripped one down low to the opposite corner.

After going down two goals, the Rangers really turned the momentum back in their favor as Rick Nash made an unbelievable play, and drove to the net. He wound up losing the puck in close, but the pressure was enough to force James Reimer off of his post, and it slid right under the pad to make this a 2-1 game. However, just as this Rangers season has gone all along, just five minutes later, the Rangers were right back to where they started as Phil Kessel netted the power play goal to go up by a score of 3-1 with under a minute left in the second period.

Although, if you watched the final five minutes of that second period, Rick Nash was an absolute monster, and was so close to taking over this game for the Rangers. Two minutes into the third period? A mind blowing move brings this game back in reach as Rick Nash cuts to the middle and makes James Reimer look silly. Than just seven minutes later, a fluky bounce in the neutral zone springs Derek Stepan on a 2-on-1 with Darroll Powe. Stepan hesitated, froze up James Reimer, and ripped it over the glove to knot this game up at 3-3.

While the excitement of the tying goal was still fresh in their memories, the Rangers gave up a goal just 39 seconds later to Phil Kessel who broke in all alone on breakaway. He fanned on the initial shot, but with the defenseman no where close, Kessel jammed home the rebound to put the Leafs back on top 4-3. That would prove to be the dagger as Derek Stepan had a golden chance in the final 30 seconds to tie it, but his stick snapped on him.

But that's just the type of luck the Rangers have been having this season. While it's never fun to make up excuses, a broken stick potentially cost the Rangers two points here tonight. The Rangers have a must win on the line on Wednesday night, if they plan to keep themselves in the playoff race. Hopefully it goes a lot better than tonight.

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