The New York Rangers didn't necessarily start off the New Year on the right foot, as they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 tonight. To make matters worse, the Rangers will likely be human ice bags as they were dominated both on the score board, and physically as well. Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, and John Moore were all banged up tonight, but luckily finished the game unharmed. Derek Dorsett wasn't as lucky however, as he wound up breaking his fibula on a blocked shot, and will be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks.
You could tell just how the Rangers started this game that things were going to ugly pretty quickly. The Penguins were completely outworking them on area of the ice, which didn't allow them to generate any sort of offense whatsoever. As expected, the Penguins were able to take advantage of the early pressure, and eventually converted it into two quick goals nearing the end of the period.
Chris Kunitz picked up the first goal on the power play as a Matt Niskanen's point shot deflected off of Sidney Crosby's skate, and slipped over to Kunitz for the easy tap it. Not a whole lot the Rangers could have done on the play, and with Dorsett hobbling around with one leg it was pretty hard for him to contest the original point shot up high. Speaking of Dorsett, how much heart does this guy have? He not only finished his shift with a broke fibula, but also wound up blocking another shot before he finally made his way off of the ice.
The guy is tough as nails, and will be sorely missed by the Rangers for the next couple of weeks. Either way, the Rangers found themselves in a familiar 2-0 hole just five minutes later as Jussi Jokinen chipped home a centering pass to the right of the far post, and beat Henrik Lundqvist high over the shoulder. This goal was a little concerning compared to the first. The Rangers had five guys within a two feet radius of Brian Gibbons behind the net, but neither Rick Nash nor Benoit Pouliot picked up Jokinen cutting to the net. Not to mention, both defensemen were stuck below the goal line, which didn't really help their case all that much.
Things continued to get even uglier for the Rangers in the second period as the Penguins piled on to more goals to extend their lead to 4-0. Jussi Jokinen picked up his second goal of the game just a minute into the second, as he and Brian Gibbons connected once again on the rush, and made the Rangers look silly once again. Then it was Sidney Crosby with about two minutes remaining as another turnover in the defensive end gave him a wide open shot, and he ripped a backhand over the shoulder of Lundqvist.
Luckily for us, the Rangers actually started to show some life in the third period, and were able to cut the Penguins lead in half within a matter of minutes. Mats Zuccarello was the first one to get the Rangers on the board, and ended Marc-Andre Fleury's shutout bid seven minutes into the third period. A few minutes later, Zuccarello connected with Ryan McDonagh on a beautiful passing sequence, and suddenly the Rangers were starting to heavily out-pressure the Penguins.
However, that lasted all of a minute before the Penguins were able to find the back of the net once again, and it was Chris Kunitz closing out the scoring with his second goal of the evening. Once again, after a pileup in front of Lundqvist, the puck eventually found Kunitz who was waiting all alone on the left side of the net, and he made no mistake with the empty net.
This loss was definitely extremely frustrating considering the Rangers were riding a two game winning streak heading into tonight. But, at the same time, this is what elite scoring teams will do to you if you are not 100% on your decision making, and that's exactly what the Penguins did tonight. This loss will need to quickly exit the Rangers minds as they will have a quick turnaround tomorrow night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.