The New York Rangers deserved a better result tonight after a strong third period, but they wound up falling to the Chicago Blackhawks by a final score of 2-1. Antti Raanta was granted his fourth straight start following a pair of shutouts, and he had yet another duel with Scott Darling in the crease.
Prior to this game starting, the Rangers were dealt some unfortunate news as Ryan McDonagh was unable to play due to illness. With the Blackhawks getting both Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook back, losing McDonagh for tonight’s contest was not something the Rangers needed to hear. However, that meant Adam Clendening would suit up in place of the captain tonight, after being scratched for a healthy portion of the season.
Early on in this one, the Blackhawks were able to tip the scale in their favor following some early offensive zone time. It took the Rangers several minutes to get their legs going, and they finally made their push back during the back end of the period. The Rangers best chance of the period came when Brady Skjei tossed a perfect pass over to Brandon Pirri camped out on the backdoor.
Unfortunately, it appeared as if Pirri didn’t anticipate the hard pass and the puck slipped off the heal of his stick with the net wide open. That missed opportunity would eventually come back to haunt the Rangers, as the Blackhawks were able to capitalize in the second period. Artemi Panarin found Trevor van Riemsdyk breaking down the middle of the ice, and he fired a quick snap shot past Antti Raanta on the far side.
With that goal against, Raanta’s shutout streak officially ended after 176 minutes and 22 seconds. Thankfully, the Rangers found a way to respond rather quickly following a ridiculous individual effort by Jesper Fast near the goal line. Oscar Lindberg chopped the puck off the back of the net, which right in Fast’s lap, and he immediately swatted the puck out of the air.
I’m pretty sure the only person in the building that knew it was a goal was Fast, just based on the confusing nature of the goal. After trading chances following the tying goal, the Blackhawks were able to capitalize yet again coming off of a slick passing play down low. Artem Anisimov finished off the play by rifling a shot just under the crossbar, and gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead with a little over a minute remaining.
With the Rangers needing another goal, they certainly came out of the gates determined in the third period. However, Scott Darling was just ridiculous in between the pipes, and shutdown several scoring opportunities that should have resulted in goals. That trend continued for a good portion of the third period, but the Rangers were unable to find a way to solve Darling’s magic.
Despite being without Ryan McDonagh tonight, along with an already depleted lineup, the Rangers had about as strong of a game as you could ask for. They simply dominated the third period up and down the ice, and probably deserved a better resulted because of their play. Unfortunately, that’s just the way hockey works sometimes.
Following tonight’s loss, the Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow before meeting up with the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night. There’s also a chance that Rick Nash makes his return to the lineup, so it’s worth keeping an eye on that.