After finally snapping their losing streak against the Nashville Predators, the New York Rangers were handled pretty convincingly by the San Jose Sharks. Between a combination of bad luck and poor play, the Rangers now fall to 2-6-2 on the season and there really hasn’t been any sign of true improvement.
The Rangers looked to build off of their previous game against the Nashville Predators, but unfortunately, the Rangers appeared to fall back into their old ways. Following an early high sticking penalty by Chris Kreider, the Sharks pulled their goaltender and kept play alive in the offensive zone. That eventually led to the Sharks grabbing an early one goal lead at the 1:56 mark coming off of a goal by Logan Couture.
Couture’s slap shot from just inside the blue line deflected off of Chris Kreider’s leg and fooled Henrik Lundqvist as he was anticipating the original shot. While the goal didn’t necessarily come as a direct result of a defensive breakdown, the Rangers found themselves trailing again during the opening two minutes.
The Rangers had two consecutive power play opportunities following the goal, and while they were threatening, Martin Jones preserved the 1-0 lead. The Rangers best chance of the period came off of a Chris Kreider deflection in front, which slid behind Jones through the crease. With the Rangers recent string of bad luck, the puck stopped right on the goal line and Kreider’s second attempt also came up empty.
Brent Burns did slash/hold Kreider as he was coming in to swat at the loose puck, but there was no call and more importantly, the Sharks somehow avoided a goal against. A short time after the close call in their own end, the Sharks found a way to double up their lead following a fortunate goal from Tim Heed.
Henrik Lundqvist would probably like to have the goal back as it was not only from a ridiculous angle, but the shot was initially intended to generate a rebound. Lundqvist never fully sealed off the post and the puck somehow slipped behind him to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. The Rangers had two more power plays to close out the period, including a short stint of 5-on-3 action, but came up empty yet again despite generating good chances.
The same trend continued during the second period, with the Rangers pressuring the Sharks and Martin Jones standing tall in the net. Two more power play opportunities went unanswered, but unlike the previous four, the Rangers struggled to gain the zone with the Sharks putting four players on the blue line. You could tell the Rangers frustrations were starting to boil over a bit during the period and a late goal against only made matters worse for the team in blue.
An ill-timed pitch by Mats Zuccarello led to a Jonas Donskoi partial breakaway at the other end, and Donksoi buried the chance on the far side. There was a bit of concern right after the goal as Henrik Lundqvist fell to the ice grabbing at his left leg. The replay showed that Donskoi clipped Lundqvist’s skate as he went by the net which twisted his leg in an awkward fashion. Lundqvist remained the game for the final 40 seconds of the period and also returned for the third period which was good news.
With the Rangers needing three goals just to tie, they came out looking to get at least one goal on the board. Unfortunately, the Rangers frustrations carried over again and just 2:51 into the third period the Sharks made it a 4-0 game. A Henrik Lundqvist misplay behind the net led to a takeaway by Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson tapped home the puck on the empty net.
Shortly after the diasterous play behind the Rangers net, Mika Zibanejad finally ended the shutout bid for Martin Jones at 4:23. Zibanejad had a wide open chance in the high slot and for the first time all game, the Rangers finally elevated the puck over Jones to make it 4-1. Zibanejad’s goal would be the final goal in regulation for both teams with the Sharks wrapping up a pretty convincing 4-1 win at Madison Square Garden.
While the last win was encouraging, to see the Rangers fall right back into the hole leaves a pretty sour taste. At some point something needs to give, whether that is a coaching change, a trade to shake things up, or something more dire. But the Rangers cannot continue to tread water like this and expect something to magically change. It’s fairly evident that something is off with this team, so if the Rangers don’t correct the issues pretty soon, we’re going to be in for a long season.
Following tonight’s loss, the Rangers will have two days off before returning to Madison Square Garden for a meeting with Derek Stepan and the Arizona Coyotes. We’ll see if there are any changes between now and then.