The Rangers wrapped up their regular season by hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night, and after a rollercoaster of a third period, dropped their final game heading into the playoffs.
The first period was fairly even, with the Rangers playing better early and the Leafs turning it on late. Nobody scored. Nothing to see here.
The Rangers opened the scoring early in the second, capitalizing on an unforced error committed by the Leafs in their own zone. Vincent Trocheck picked up the errant puck behind the neat and set up Kaako Kaapo, who was alone in the high slot. He went to his backhand, held, held longer, and found just enough room under a leaping Artemiy Panarin to notch his 18th goal of the season.
The Leafs knotted the game at one in the third. Timothy Liljegren carried the puck wide on the rush and tossed the puck on net from a bad angle. Easy save for Jaroslav Halak—or at least it would have been if Nico Mikkola didn’t deflect the shot attempting to block it. That’s gotta drive a goalie crazy.
Braden Schneider briefly seemed to have put the Rangers back on top, but the Leafs challenged the play and it was found to be offsides. #abolishoffsides
Still, the Rangers managed to recapture the lead on the powerplay. Panarin scored his 29th of the season on a pass from Adam Fox that words simply will not do justice:
The assist was Fox’s 60th of the year, and hot damn.
Alas, the Leafs answered just over a minute later when William Nylander potted his 40th of the year. It was a broken play that started when Braden Schneider attempted to pass the puck around the boards. Nylander read the play, and chipped the puck to Ryan O’Reilly. He returned it to Nylander alone in front, and Michael’s son roofed it.
Even alas-er, Toronto picked up what would be the game winning goal with under eight minutes to go. Noel Acciari fired a puck on net and Halak coughed up a rebound. K’Andre Miller was tying up his man well enough, but no one picked up Acciari as he crashed the net and put away his own rebound.
Alas-est of all, the Rangers momentarily appeared to have tied the game with 1.2 seconds on the clock, but the goal was reviewed and overturned again when it was determined that sweet Filip Chytil kicked the puck into the net. Thus the game ended 3-2.
. . .
So that’s that for the regular season. Giving up three third period goals is, uh, not ideal. But when you think about it the Rangers also scored three in the third, but it’s just that two of them didn’t count. Well, as I’ve been saying for weeks, if no one got hurt, then the rest is fine.
Next up: a play off series on the road against the New Jersey Devils in what should be a very fun series.