Aside from the first period tonight, the New York Rangers put together a solid 40 minutes of hockey, but unfortunately, that wasn't enough to reel in the victory. The Rangers had a relatively slow start to the game, and appeared to be a step or two behind the speedy Colorado Avalanche. Henrik Lundqvist was able to keep this game close, as the Rangers started to steady the ship, and find their game in the second period.
As good as Lundqvist was in the early going, the Avalanche were able to break through with the first goal of the game, coming from Matt Duchene late in the first period. Tyson Barrie's point shot found a seam through traffic, which Lundqvist picked up late, and kicked out a big rebound to the side of the crease. John Moore wound up losing Duchene to the side of the post, and he was able to slip in to tap the puck back over Lundqvist's shoulder. It was a tough goal to give up late in the period, but with the Rangers playing the way they were, you could almost sense it coming.
The Rangers didn't hang their heads though, and came out in the second period on a mission. Just six minutes in, Kevin Hayes picked up his second goal of the season as he tapped in a rebound to the side of Semyon Varlamov, with the extra man on the ice. As subtle of play as it was, Kevin Klein deserves a ton of credit for constructing that goal, as he had the patience to back track, and reset the play after bobbling the puck at the blue line. Right after that, the Rangers were able to come back 4-on-2, where the puck eventually landed right on the tape of Hayes for the slam dunk.
Five minutes later, though, the Rangers would fall behind once again on a massive defensive miscue in front of Henrik Lundqvist. With Matt Duchene flying down the wing, Dan Girardi made a great diving play to take away the passing lane in front, which also took out Marc Staal in the process. With Staal caught behind the net, Martin St. Louis failed to puck up Alex Tanguay in front of the net, which left him wide open for the redirection in front. Lundqvist really didn't have much a chance after being left out to dry, which gave the Avalanche their second lead of the evening.
That goal clearly lit a fire under the Rangers, as they responded quickly with two consecutive goals to take a 3-2 lead late in the second period. The first goal came from Derek Stepan, who picked up his first goal of the season, as he ripped a wicked wrist shot over the shoulder of Varlamov. Stepan actually sold the pass over to Nash so much that Varlamov was already down on his knees before he even let the shot rip, and he had the whole top corner to pick.
Then just two minutes after Stepan's goal, Dan Girardi somehow made his way to the front of the net, where Mats Zuccarello fed him for the deflection in front. With Dan Boyle coming out of the box after his penalty, Girardi took it upon himself to get to the front of the net, and it wound up paying off perfectly. He even pulled a show angel on his goal celebration, which was pretty hilarious as well.
The Rangers were able to hold on to their 3-2 lead for the remainder of the second period, but that lead finally vanished at the 7:54 mark of the third period. Jesper Fast was eventually whistled down for a holding penalty in the offensive zone, which handed the Avalanche a power play with a chance to the tie the game. The Avalanche wound up doing exactly that, just 51 seconds into the power play, as Nathan MacKinnon banked a shot off of Dan Girardi's leg, and just slipped under Lundqvist' pad.
With the game tied throughout the third, and then into overtime, neither the Rangers nor the Avalanche were able to come away with the game winner, which sent this game to a shootout. Unlike other home games, the Rangers actually elected to shoot second this time around, which gave them the last opportunity to either win the game or sent it into extra rounds. Nathan MacKinnon was able to score first for the Avalanche, while Derek Stepan tied the game in the second round for the Rangers. That set the stage for Lundqvist to stop Alex Tanguay, which would give the Rangers a chance to win on Lee Stempniak's final shot.
Unfortunately, Tanguay was able to get the best of Lundqvist as he faked him out of position, and floated the puck over the sprawled out Lundqvist. Stempniak had a chance to extend the shootout into extra innings, but was stopped by Varlamov which extended the shootout loss streak to three games. As difficult as it was to drop that extra point, the Rangers can't let this one hang around, and need to look ahead to their next game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With the Rangers absolutely decimating the Pens the last time around, the Rangers will need to be even more prepared then they were last time. The Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow, before they head into Pittsburgh to faceoff against the Penguins.