The New York Rangers not only had to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, they also had to beat the NHL officials as well. The Rangers played a near perfect game tonight, and were well on their way to picking up a win in regulation. However, the officials had other plans, and completely forgot to blow the whistle when Cam Talbot had the puck covered after a late flurry. The officiating throughout the league has always been pretty spotty, but over these last few weeks I think it's hit an all time low.
Luckily for the Rangers and the referees sake, they were able to snag a win in the shootout tonight, which made everyone feel a little bit better than they did five minutes prior. While winning in the shootout was fine and dandy, the Rangers weren't able to pick up a ROW point, which could prove to be costly in such a tight playoff race in the Metropolitan Division. At the end of the day though, the Rangers were able to pick up two points tonight after the officials sent the Maple Leafs an early Christmas present.
Coming off of a big game last night against the Minnesota Wild, the Rangers continued to hound the Maple Leafs all night long. In the second period, the Rangers were able to quadruple the Maple Leafs in shots, and put a season-high 22 shots torwards Jonathan Bernier. Speaking of Bernier, he was really the only Maple Leaf that showed up all night long, and single-handedly kept the Leafs in the game all night long.
Finally in the third period, the Rangers were able to breakthrough the brick wall and grabbed their first lead of the game. Chris Kreider made a few great plays behind the net to keep the puck in his possession and quickly found J.T. Miller cutting down in the high slot. J.T. Miller had just come off of the bench a few seconds prior, so the Maple Leafs didn't actually pick up on him until the puck was in the back of their net.
It was just a great play by Miller to create an opening, and great vision by Chris Kreider to find a seam in order to get the puck to Miller. About 11 minutes after the Rangers scored, the Maple Leafs were able to tie the game on the major controversy that was discussed above.
No matter how frustrating the tying goal was, the Rangers were able to rally together and created a few scoring chances in the overtime period. Neither team was able to breakthrough though, and the game would head to the dreaded skills competition. Both Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan scored for the Rangers, while Joffrey Lupul was the lone goal scorer for the Maple Leafs.
Cam Talbot was able to get some revenge on Nazem Kadri as he denied him on the final shootout attempt, and reeled in two huge points for the New York Rangers. Even though the beginning of this home stand was very ugly, the Rangers were able to finish it off with two big wins heading into the holiday break. The entire league will be off for the next three days, so the Rangers next game will be this upcoming Friday against the Washington Captals.