With Ryan Lindgren out of the lineup, the Rangers had to test three new D-pairs against the Red Wings Sunday night, and by the end of the game, they tried out four new forward lines to boot. It didn’t help, really.
The first period featured back and forth action with plenty of shots on goal, in no small part due to both teams getting two power plays. The Rangers earned the first. They moved the puck well and managed to get Mika Zibanejad two one-timers from his circle, but couldn’t beat Alex Nedeljkovic. Jacob Trouba took a penalty to put the Red Wings on the powerplay. The Rangers, who are a top ten team in PK%, conceded some excellent scoring chances, but Halak stood tall in net for the Rangers. After killing the penalty, the Rangers’ top two lines swarmed the offensive zone for back to back shifts. This culminated with the first goal of the game, scored by Kappo Kakko. After a shot from high in the zone was partially blocked, Kakko retrieved the puck in the slot and ripped a wrister for his third goal of the year. Chris Kreider was credited with the assist, number 200 in his career.
Kaapo Kakko opens the scoring for the Rangers pic.twitter.com/LHTKGB8nRd— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) November 6, 2022
The Rangers got another chance on the power play when Ben Chariot boarded Sammy Blais. Once again, the top unit possessed the puck with confidence, but this time Zibanejad found the back of the net on a one timer from Artemi Panarin, whose subtle fake opened up plenty of space for his pass. The Rangers came into tonight with a mid-tier PP%, but when they create chances like they did tonight you wonder how they are not perpetually among the elite.
The Red Wings had one more penalty in the first, and once again Halak stood on his head to keep the puck out of the net. Ryan Lindgren’s absence was really felt short-handed, but it didn’t lead to a goal against.
MIKA NOVEMBER HAS ARRIVED. pic.twitter.com/VoW3he7dWJ— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 6, 2022
The Red Wings opened the second period with a quick goal from their fourth line. Ben Chiarot took a soft shot from the point that Matt Luff deflected over Halak’s shoulder. They went on to tie the game midway though the period. The Rangers got caught on a change, leaving Zac Jones and Trouba alone against three Red Wings. Dylan Larkin took a shot from the high slot, and Halak made the save, but Pius Suter jammed home the rebound. The Rangers remained perfect on the PK after they killed off an interference call on Fox, and neither team scored again in the period.
After being thoroughly outplayed in the second, Gerard Gallant fired up the line blender, and boy were the results bizarre:
After a sketchy start to the period, the Rangers began to find their game, with Gauthier and Vesey each getting scoring chances in tight. Midway through the period, Fox was double shifted, as Jones found himself benched. While the Rangers generally continued to control play, they needed Halak to make two huge saves to keep the game tied. The first was on a break by Dominik Kubalik that came off a Fox turnover. The second came when David Perron drew multiple defenders and hit a streaking Filip Hronek, but Halak was in perfect position.
So on to overtime we went. Two minutes in, Perron pressured K’Andre Miller at the point in the Rangers zone and drew a holding penalty. The Red Wings kept the puck in the Rangers zone, and when the Rangers finally did clear, Nedeljkovic passed the puck back up ice aggressively. With Trouba and Zibanejad stuck on for a long shift and Fox having played over 29 minutes, the PK unit was gassed. This allowed the Red Wings to execute a quick passing play that ended with Perron connecting with Kubalik for the game winning power play goal. There was a glimmer of hope when the Situation Room reviewed the play to determine whether the Red Wings were offsides. But alas, it was a good goal.
This was a tough one. As nice as it was to have Chytil back in the lineup, the loss of Lindgren loomed larger in this game. Zac Jones riding the bench while Libor Hajek continued to get icetime is somewhat distressing in the longer term, and Fox playing 30 minutes a night can’t become the norm. Hopefully Lindgren will get healthy soon, because without him the Rangers defense is perilously shallow. At least Halak played pretty well?
After dropping to 6-4-3 on the season, the Rangers will wrap up their homestand against the Islanders on Tuesday. Will the new lines stick? Should they stick?