The New York Rangers will head into the holiday break sporting a two game losing streak after coming up short against the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening. Henrik Lundqvist, who kept the Rangers alive for most of the night, had his 11-game winning streak on home ice broken with the loss.
Much like the previous game against the New Jersey Devils, the Rangers started the game completely flat and handed the Maple Leafs all of the momentum. With Lundqvist doing everything in his power to keep the game scoreless, the Leafs finally broke the ice at the 17:14 mark of the first period.
Following an already extended shift, the Rangers were pinned in their own zone and William Nylander capitalized on a beautiful centering pass from Auston Matthews. Matthews put the puck right on Nylander’s stick as his slid down from the high slot, and Nylander slipped the puck under Lundqvist’s arm for the one goal lead.
The Leafs would carry their momentum over to the second period where Ron Hainsey would double up the lead on the power play. Lundqvist pleaded for a goaltender interference call on James van Riemsdyk, but there was minimal contact at best and the Leafs held the 2-0 lead. After being under siege for a good portion of the game, the Rangers finally got on the scoreboard with a goal coming from Jimmy Vesey.
Frederik Andersen wound up misplaying the puck behind the net and handed the puck right to Vesey for the easy wrap goal. The Rangers appeared to have some life following the goal, but a costly defensive mistake put them right back into a two goal hole. Auston Matthews was left all alone in front of the net and slammed home his own rebound following a centering pass from Zach Hyman.
It took the Rangers nearly two periods to wake up and they finally put pressure on the Leafs during the final 20 minutes. J.T. Miller cut the Leafs’ lead in half at the 11:25 mark of the third period and slammed home a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Pavel Buchnevich in the corner.
Shortly after Miller’s tally, the Rangers appeared to tie the game after Michael Grabner snapped a shot just under the crossbar. Madison Square Garden absolutely erupted following the goal, but the celebration was cut short with a coach’s challenge. Kevin Hayes wound up being an inch or two offsides on the zone entry, and Grabner’s tying goal was wiped off of the board.
That disallowed goal proved to be costly as the Rangers were unable to find another during the final six minutes and lost by just a single goal. It was unfortunate to see the goal wiped off of the board, but at the end of the day, the Rangers started their comeback bid a little too late.
The Rangers will have a couple of days to rest up before returning to action on December 27 against the Washington Capitals.