The eight game winning streak at Madison Square Garden officially came to an end tonight at the hands of the Florida Panthers. After falling behind 3-0 in the first period, and Alain Vigneault yanking Henrik Lundqvist, it appeared as if this game was going to get ugly pretty fast. Not that wasn’t already at that point, but with an extremely sloppy start it seemed like one of “those” nights for the Rangers.
But fortunately the Rangers never gave up, despite the three goal deficit, and somehow found a way to climb back into the game. J.T. Miller got the scoring started for the Rangers early in the second period and cut the Panthers’ deficit to 3-1. Miller did an excellent job of lifting Curtis McKenzie’s stick and shoveled the puck on net all in one fluid motion.
The Panthers were able to add on another goal shortly after Miller’s tally and extended their lead to 4-1. Then the trio of Pavel Buchnevich, David Desharnais and Chris Kreider came to the rescue as they added a pair of goals to make it a one goal game heading into the third period. Pavel Buchnevich started the two goal effort after burying a cross-crease feed from Chris Kreider and tapped the puck past James Reimer.
On the second goal, the roles were reversed with Buchnevich finding Kreider burning down the left wing for the easy tap-in just inside the high slot.
The Rangers scored a third goal before the period came to an end but it was immediately waived off due to incidental contact with the goaltender. The initial call didn’t appear to hold much merit, and after seeing the replay, it was clear that there was minimal contact at best. Not to mention, the “contact” that did happen was outside of the crease and came as a direct result of the defender cutting off Rick Nash’s lane.
At the end of the day, complaining about the result isn’t going to change the call, but it was fairly obvious the Rangers were on the receiving end of a horrendous call.
Chris Kreider eventually tied up the game at the 13:28 mark of the third period, and to the Rangers liking, this one would stand. David Desharnais picked up the primary assist on the goal after doing the dirty work behind the net, and finding Kreider cutting to the crease. With the score deadlocked and the Rangers surging, this game seemed destined to end in the Rangers’ favor.
However, quite the opposite happened after an unforced turnover by Nick Holden in the defensive zone that ended up in the back of the net. Not only that, but following the turnover Holden proceeded to screen Ondrej Pavelec after attempting to block the shot in the high slot. Denis Malgin picked up his first goal of the season on the goal, and also put the nail in the Rangers eight game home winning streak.
While it was disappointing to see the Rangers comeback bid end on such a sour note, a lot this comes back to the Rangers horrendous start. The same thing happened last game against the Vancouver Canucks, but thankfully Henrik Lundqvist saved the day and the Rangers salvaged the second point in the shootout.
On the flip side, it is encouraging to see the Rangers “never give up” attitude as of late, but they really need to clean up their starts. Hopefully the Rangers will have some reinforcements on Friday night with Ryan McDonagh returning to the lineup and potentially Mika Zibanejad (assuming he’s healthy).