The New York Rangers were thoroughly dominated this evening at Madison Square Garden, and were defeated 4-2 by the desperate Los Angeles Kings. Aside from a decent first period, the Rangers didn't have a whole lot of jump in their game tonight, and let the Kings walk all over them for much of the final 40 minutes. The Kings are currently on the outside looking in, in terms of the playoffs, and they sure as heck looked like a team fighting for their playoff lives tonight.
The Rangers didn't have any answers for their sustained pressure in the offensive zone, and that was clearly evident by the result on the scoreboard. However, early in this game, Mats Zuccarello gave us a sense of optimism as he got the Rangers on the board just 51 seconds into regulation. Just like the other night against the Anaheim Ducks, the Rangers jumped on the Kings right off the opening draw, and made them pay. J.T. Miller did all of the heavy lifting on this goal, and outworked Drew Doughty in the corner to come out with the loose puck.
Miller capped it off with a beautiful centering feed out to Zuccarello, who ripped a quick wrist shot, and beat Jonathan Quick just over the blocker. Things were looking pretty good for the Rangers during the first ten minutes, but then the Kings found a way to get back into the game. Just under ten minutes after Zuccarello gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead, Robyn Regehr cashed in on a fluke bounce in front of Cam Talbot.
The puck wound up deflecting in off Keith Yandle, who attempted to swat the puck out of the air, and it just barely slipped in between Talbot's pads. From that point on in the game, the Kings pretty much controlled the play, and handed it to the Rangers for the remainder of the game. Marian Gaborik was able to extend the Kings lead to 2-1 just four minutes in the second period, as he tapped in a beautiful pass from Anze Kopitar off to the far side of the net.
The Kings wound up piling on two more goals early in the third period courtesy of Jeff Carter and Jake Muzzin. As if the game wasn't already in doubt, the Kings pretty much put the nail in the coffin with those two early third period goals. Kevin Hayes closed out the scoring with a little under four minutes remaining in regulation, and snapped one by Quick on the blocker side once again.
The Rangers clearly didn't have the effort that was needed tonight, and they were severely outclassed by a team that is fighting for a playoff spot. Luckily for the Rangers, there's almost no chance they miss the playoffs, but this type of effort can't happen, especially against a tired team. I'm not sure what was more disappointing tonight, the Rangers not getting two points or the Kings likely sneaking into the playoffs again and potentially going on another run.
Either way, the Rangers will need to regroup before Thursday's game against the Ottawa Senators, as it will be yet another tough opponent fighting for a playoff spot. Hopefully the results are better than they were tonight.