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Rangers Fall To Maple Leafs 4-2 In Return From Bye Week

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NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Rangers Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After spending the last five days resting and recouping, the New York Rangers started off the second half of their season with a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Aside from the first period, the Rangers as a whole weren’t really that bad tonight, they just caught a few unlucky bounces. The Leafs third goal was pretty unfortunate, coupled with hitting two posts in the third period with a chance to make it a game.

That’s also not taking anything away from Frederik Andersen, who had a very strong tonight and kept the Rangers largely in check. If there was one area of concern tonight, though, it was the power play which went 0-for-6 the same day we praised their special teams play in our first half review.

Again, it’s not like the power play wasn’t generating chances, they just couldn’t find a way to pounce on rebounds that were being generated. As mentioned above, Derek Stepan also rang a shot off of the post early in the third period with a chance to make it a 3-2 game.

Following a very emotional ceremony to honor the recent passing of Detective Steven McDonald, the Leafs were quick to jump on the Rangers in the opening minutes of this game. As a result, just 4:49 into regulation William Nylander was able to sneak a shot past Henrik Lundqvist on the short side and gave the Leafs an early 1-0 lead.

The Leafs continued their strong play for a good portion of the first period, before finally doubling up their lead nearing the end of the period. James van Riemsdyk was able to convert off of a beautiful centering feed from Mitch Marner, and made it a 2-0 game heading into the second period.

After a period to forget for the Rangers, they finally responded at the 9:05 mark of the second period. Chris Kreider picked up his 17th goal of the season after he slammed away at a loose puck in the crease, before finally shoveling it past Andersen to bring the Rangers back within a goal. That goal appeared to give the Rangers some life, as they were able to string together several dominating shifts in the offensive zone.

Unfortunately for them, Frederik Andersen stood tall all throughout the pressure and kept it a one goal game. Shortly after Kreider’s goal, the Maple Leafs caught a fortunate bounce and doubled up their lead yet again with a goal coming from Connor Brown. After entering the zone, Brown quickly curled up inside the blue line and casually tossed a shot towards Henrik Lundqvist.

As the puck was coming in on net, it wound up deflecting off of Ryan McDonagh’s stick and caught Lundqvist off guard with the deflection. The puck slipped between the legs of Henrik Lundqvist’s legs and made it a 3-1 game late in the second period. The Rangers had a massive opportunity early in the third period by going on the power play, but unfortunately came up empty yet again.

About three minutes past the halfway mark, the Leafs put the icing on the cake with their second power play goal coming from Connor Carrick at the top of the crease. No one picked up Carrick, who was planted just inside the hashmarks, and he was able to chip a rebound over the sprawling Lundqvist.

With the goaltender pulled late in the game, the Rangers were able to pick up one final goal courtesy of J.T. Miller. Pavel Buchnevich created the goal with a beautiful tap pass to Miller as he entered the zone, and sprung him into the offensive zone with a massive shooting lane. After missing nearly two months, Buchnevich’s late assist extended his point streak to five consecutive games.

Following tonight’s loss, the Rangers will immediately turn their attention to the Montreal Canadiens, who they will meet up with tomorrow night at the Bell Centre.