After sneaking out of a victory against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, the New York Rangers struggled this evening on home ice, and were defeated 4-1 by the Montreal Canadiens. The Rangers have been extremely inconsistent as of late when it comes to generating offense, and that was one of their biggest issues this evening.
The only player that seemed to get things going was Pavel Buchnevich, who easily had one of the better games of his young career. At the other end of the ice, the Rangers also struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, which allowed the Canadiens to do what they pleased. As a result, the Canadiens were able to strike first at the 12:51 mark of the first period on a point shot from Shea Weber.
The puck wound up taking a fortunate bounce off of Adam Clendening’s leg in front, and bounced in behind Lundqist for the 1-0 lead. With the Rangers struggling right from the start, they were a step behind for most of the night and never seemed to catch back up. The Canadiens continued their dominance during the second period and came away with a pair of goals.
Artturi Lehkonen picked up the first goal off of a centering feed from Philip Danault, and he buried a quick wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist. Later on in the period, Andrew Shaw slammed home a wrap around attempt after Lundqvist lost sight of the puck in the corner. Just prior to the goal, Lundqvist was struck with a stick around his mask and had to recover in time for another shot coming his way.
Unfortunately, he never fully recovered and when the secondary shot deflected to the corner he lost sight of the puck completely. That allowed Shaw to circle around the net, and gave the Canadiens a 3-0 lead late in the second period. After a miserable 40 minutes of hockey, it appeared as if the Rangers were finally awake. Just 1:44 into the third period, Chris Kreider cut the lead to two goals after chipping home a rebound off to the left side of Carey Price.
Following the goal, the Rangers had several threatening shifts but weren’t able to get a clean shot off with the Canadiens collapsing. The Rangers early surge ended rather abruptly when Jordie Benn’s point shot sailed over Lundqvist on yet another faceoff loss. With players driving the net right off the draw, Lundqvist picked up the shot late and it just barely slipped through his legs to make it a 4-1 game.
After the fourth goal against, the Rangers were pretty much dead in the water and couldn’t get much of anything going. This defeat now makes it three losses in the last four for the Rangers, as their offense has suddenly gone stale in the blink of an eye. Even though the Rangers are firmly in a playoff position, they need to right the ship before things really fall off the rails.
They will have another opportunity to do so this Monday, as they start off their road trip in Florida against the Tampa Bay Lightning.