After winning three straight games, the New York Rangers were handed an extremely frustrating loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Throughout the first period and a half, the Rangers were clearly the better team, and they finally were rewarded late in the second period. However, what followed was an absolute disaster. The Rangers wound up handing three goals to the Penguins within a two minute span, and found themselves down 3-1.
Up until that point, Henrik Lundqvist was absolutely lights out, but then he was involved in a collision with Ryan McDonagh after a partial breakaway attempt. McDonagh caught Lundqvist up high while trying to avoid a collision, and Lundqvist got up extremely slow. While the play went down the other end, Lundqvist was looking for a whistle, but never got one, so he launched the net off of it's moorings.
As a result, Lundqvist was assessed a two minute minor for delay of game, but the Rangers were able to kill it off rather convincingly. With about three minutes remaining in the second period, the Rangers finally got their chance, and Chris Kreider made it count. After receiving a pass from Mats Zuccarello, Kreider flew down the right side of the ice and rifled a quick shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury gave Kreider the entire left side of the net, and for once, he actually hit the target.
It appeared as if the Rangers were going to carry that lead into the second intermission, but that changed at the blink of an eye. About a minute later, the Penguins caught a fortunate bounce and Sidney Crosby knotted the game up at one. The puck wound up banking off of the end boards, and came right back out in front of the net. Crosby just barely got a piece of the puck as it went by, and tapped it across the line.
Following the tying goal, things went from bad to worse for the Rangers. Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist scored within a minute of each other, and that gave the Penguins a two goal lead heading into the intermission. Coming into the third period, the Rangers looked absolutely shocked after giving away the game late in the second period. With the Penguins going into a full defensive mode, the Rangers weren't able to generate much and only tossed five shots on goal.
Antti Raanta came in for the third period with Henrik Lundqvist remaining in the locker room, and he finished off the remaining 20 minutes. With about two minutes remaining in regulation, Phil Kessel iced the game with an empty net goal, and locked up the 4-1 win for the Penguins. Thankfully, the Rangers will be right back in action tomorrow night, and they can immediately put this game behind them.
The good news is, aside from the three minute collapse, the Rangers played a really strong game tonight. They will have another tough game tomorrow against the Washington Capitals, and hopefully they can respond with two huge points on the line.