The New York Rangers, icing a shorthanded lineup, came up empty handed in Colorado this afternoon and fell to the Avalanche by a final score of 3-1. Already without Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, Marc Staal, and Kevin Shattenkirk, the Rangers added one more to the list today with Michael Grabner missing this afternoon’s game due to illness. Thankfully the illness isn’t expected to keep Grabner out long-term, but the lineup did take a further hit against a white-hot Avalanche team.
The Rangers first period struggles were fairly evident as they were only able to generate nine shot attempts through 20 minutes. The Avalanche, on the other hand, controlled a majority of the play and took their first lead at the 9:00 mark. Mikko Rantanen was able to thread a puck through traffic and found Erik Johnson cutting to the net looking for the deflection.
By the time the pass came across, Johnson already had inside position on Daniel Catenacci and beat Henrik Lundqvist with the deflection. The Avalanche would double up their lead early in the second period with Nathan MacKinnon tallying his 23rd goal of the season. It was a great individual effort by MacKinnon on the goal, but Steven Kampfer gave up the middle of the ice and MacKinnon made him pay for it.
Giving a superstar like MacKinnon just an inch of space is a death sentence more often than not, and the Rangers found themselves down 2-0 pretty early on in the second. Thankfully, the Rangers power play gave them some life following a beautiful deflection by Pavel Buchnevich in front of the net. Mats Zuccarello did an excellent job to put the puck in an area for Buchnevich and the Rangers clawed back within a goal.
However, that would be as close as the Rangers would come to making it a game. The first part of the third period was filled with Rangers scoring chances, but they weren’t able to solve Jonathan Bernier. The best chance of the period came when Jimmy Vesey chipped the puck on net from the goal line, and it just barely deflected wide off of the crossbar.
The Rangers certainly had plenty of zone time with the goaltender pulled, but a misguided pass by J.T. Miller sent the Avalanche the other way. Mikko Rantanen was able to make easy work of the open ice and iced the game with an empty net goal. While the Rangers didn’t do themselves any favors, their lineup is obviously a shell of its former self at the moment, and the Avalanche played a well structured defensive game.
The Rangers will look to bounce back tomorrow night, as they head right back into action against the Los Angeles Kings starting at 10:30 PM.