It certainly wasn’t pretty by any means, but unlike last game, the New York Rangers finally completed the third period comeback after trailing by two goals. While the ending was encouraging, despite playing a fourth string goalie, the start is what left some pause. Henrik Lundqvist absolutely stood on his head tonight and even though he allowed four goals, the Rangers don’t win this game without him.
The opening minutes of this game weren’t all that bad, however, with Jimmy Vesey opening up the scoring for the Rangers. David Desharnais created the goal with excellent work behind the net and put the puck right on Vesey’s tape in the high slot. After surging for a good three minutes in Vegas’ end, the Rangers fell flat on their face and looked absolutely lost following the opening goal.
This has become an alarming trend for the Rangers where they go from dominating to becoming absolutely lifeless in a matter of minutes. As mentioned above, if not for Lundqvist, this game would have slipped away pretty early with the onslaught handed down by the Golden Knights. A little under three minutes after the opening goal, Ex-Ranger Oscar Lindberg slammed home a loose puck off to the right of Lundqvist and tied the game at one.
Just prior to the goal, Steven Kampfer was completely turnstiled by Alex Tuch coming over the blue line which led to the chance against. The downward spiral continued through the end of the period where Riley Smith tallied the go-ahead goal at the 19:21 mark of the first. The Rangers were caught with three players chasing the puck carrier up high, which left numbers in front of the net for the Knights. Riley Smith was able to pounce on the loose rebound and Vegas took a 2-1 lead into the intermission.
Thankfully the Rangers responded almost immediately in the second period coming off of Mats Zuccarello’s third goal of the season. Then things went downhill...again. Reilly Smith and David Perron scored 12 minutes apart, and the Golden Knights took a pretty commanding 4-2 lead. We’ve seen the Rangers come back from large margins at least three times this season, but unfortunately they just were never able to finish the job. Tonight was a completely different story.
After scoring the Knights’ fourth goal, David Perron took a costly double minor, which the Rangers used to start their surge. Chris Kreider scored under a minute into the power play, following a ridiculous cross-ice saucer pass from Mika Zibanejad. Shortly after the second half of the double minor expired, Pavel Buchnevich knotted this game back up courtesy of another brilliant Zibanejad pass.
Zibanejad wouldn’t stop there either and added yet another power play goal to give the Rangers their second lead of the night. Michael Grabner eventually scored the empty net goal with under two minutes remaining to complete the comeback on Halloween night. Again, it wasn’t pretty but with the display the Rangers put on in the third period, it was nice to seem them rewarded for their effort during the final 20 minutes.
The other two periods though? Yeesh. The Rangers need to find a way to clean up their starts and keep it flowing consistently throughout the game. Up until this point, the Rangers have yet to put together a complete 60 minute game of hockey, and their record is indicative of that. Getting the win was nice, but man, they have a lot to work on before they can fully turn this ship around in the other direction.
Maybe this upcoming road trip is just what the doctor ordered for the Rangers, though. They’ll have a much needed getaway down to Florida with games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers coming up on Thursday and Saturday. We’ll see if they can finally snap out of their funk and start stringing together some wins.