The New York Rangers had a tough task ahead of themselves tonight, and they fell right into the trap of the St. Louis Blues, and were defeated by a score of 2-1. Both teams were coming off of disappointing losses just 48 hours prior, and you knew this was going to be a low scoring game from the opening faceoff. The Blues are packed to the brim with depth, and players that have the ability to completely shut you down on any given shift.
The Rangers were actually able to skate with the Blues for a majority of this game, and further provided proof that they can skate with any team in the league. Scoring on the other hand, has been an issue for many years with the Rangers, and tonight was further evidence of that. Don't get me wrong though, the Blues played an excellent game in all three zones, and practically suffocated the Rangers in the defensive end.
Just 8:38 into the game, the Blues came away with the first goal of the game as Alex Steen deflected in a puck off of his skate, and in behind Henrik Lundqvist. The play wound up going to Toronto, but after video review it was determined that there was no distinct kicking motion by Steen. The goal wound up being a byproduct of a massive breakdown in the defensive end, which saw all but one player follow the puck to the left side boards. Chris Kreider was the only one left to cover the front of the net, but wasn't able to pick up Steen sneaking out from the behind the net, and just like that it wound up being 1-0 St. Louis.
It took the Rangers a little over 30 minutes to find some sort of response as Rick Nash wired a shot under the bar and knotted the game back up at 1-1. Ryan McDonagh made a perfect play behind the net to slide the puck over to Derek Stepan, and Stepan quickly found Nash cutting in from the high slot. Jaroslav Halak was still searching for the puck as it blew by him, and Nash came away with his tenth goal in ten consecutive games.
Immediately following the goal, the Rangers had a golden opportunity to gain their first lead of the game, as they were handed a power play in the final 3 seconds of the period. Ian Cole wound up covering the puck on a scrum in front of his own net, which sent the Rangers to their second power play of the game. However, with the suffocating defending by the Blues, the Rangers weren't able to gain much zone time, and wound up taking a penalty of their own as Nash exited the box.
Without wasting more than ten seconds, the Blues converted quickly on their power play as Kevin Shattenkirk blasted a shot through a screen up high. Henrik Lundqvist was never able to track the puck with all of the bodies in front, and it slipped right between his legs to give the Blues an early third period lead.
The Rangers received one final power play with a little over seven minutes remaining, but came up empty handed once again. The final seconds quickly ticked off of the clock, and the Rangers went on to lose their second straight game at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers didn't actually play a terrible game at all, the Blues were just clogging up every single chance the Rangers had, and they couldn't really do much about it.
With two disappointing losses in a row, the Rangers will have a lot to look forward during the next week or so. Sunday will kick off their first game of the Stadium Series against the New Jersey Devils, and they will play the New York Islanders the following Wednesday at Yankee Stadium once again.