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Rangers fall to Avalanche in shootout; Stepan scores first goal of the year

Bobby Bevilacqua

dan girardi goal plus crowd 11-13

The Rangers and the crowd at Madison Square Garden celebrate after Dan Girardi scored in the third period, giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos and Getty Images.

After a huge, emotional win over the Penguins on Tuesday, the Rangers (7-6-3) dropped the shootout to the Avalanche (5-8-3), in what would ultimately be a disappointing 4-3 loss for the Rangers.

The Rangers played pretty well overall, but ultimately gave up a lead in the third period, and Alex Tanguay would seal the deal for the Avalanche with a great move in the shootout.

One of the standouts for New York tonight was Kevin Hayes, who scored the first goal for the Rangers and made it three games straight with a point (1-2-3). Kevin Hayes was the most noticeable skater for the Rangers early when they were getting shut down but Colorado, and was the one to score the first goal.

Mats Zuccarello also had a good game, picking up an assist on Dan Girardi’s goal. Zuccarello made a ton of great passes that didn’t connect, and he also almost scored in overtime. Zuccarello’s physicality and his tremendous passing ability really benefits the Rangers night in and night out.

zuccarello 11-13

Mats Zuccarello showcased his passing ability tonight, earning the primary assist on Dan Girardi’s goal. Zuccarello has eight points so far this season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos and Getty Images.

 

The first period was all Colorado. The game started out with a fight between Tanner Glass and Cody McLeod, setting the tone for the entire night. The Avalanche, hungry for a win after losing 6-0 to the Islanders on Tuesday, came out really strong and aggressive, getting many chances and outshooting the Rangers in the first period.

The Rangers had their fair share of chances, but many of the shots were either misfired or blocked, as well as Derick Brassard hitting the post.

Colorado’s hard work would pay off, as Matt Duchene would cash in on a rebound to put Colorado up 1-0. Tyson Barrie shot a puck from the blue line at Lundqvist, which bounced off his pads just as Duchene stepped over the stick of John Moore and got to the puck first. It was Duchene’s fourth goal of the season.

The Avalanche headed into the second period outshooting the Rangers 12-6, as well as dominating the faceoff circle, one thing that has plague New York on-and-off throughout the year.

The start of the second period was much of the same, with the Avalanche getting the first six shots of the period, bringing the total to 18-6 at 3:36 of the period, as well as winning 17 of the first 25 faceoffs.

The Rangers picked up their play shortly after that, and Kevin Hayes scored his second goal of the season to put New York on the board. The play started with a delayed penalty call on Nathan McKinnon, and rather than give up the puck, the Rangers managed to control the puck for 40 seconds after the penalty was called. Matt Hunwick carried the puck into the zone, and fired a sharp angle shot that deflected off of Dominic Moore’s stick and right to Kevin Hayes, who had an open net to tie the game at one.

Kevin Hayes goal 11-13

Kevin Hayes (#13, center) celebrates after scoring his second goal of the season, and the first for the Rangers tonight. Hayes now has a 3 game point streak. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos and Getty Images.

 

The Avs would answer back, taking advantage of broken defensive coverage. Dan Girardi went down to block a pass in order to cover Marc Staal’s man, which left Alex Tanguay alone in front of the net for a deflection past Henrik Lundqvist, giving Colorado their one goal lead back.

After the goal, Dan Boyle would take a boarding penalty, giving the Avalanche a power play opportunity. However, Carl Hagelin would get the puck off of the face off, and dump it into the Colorado zone. He then used his speed to get around to the puck first and draw a hooking penalty.

On the 4-on-4 opportunity, Rick Nash and Derek Stepan would go on a breakaway. Nash passed it right to Stepan, who faked a pass and then rifled one over the shoulder of Varlamov, tying the game yet again. It was Derek Stepan’s first goal of the season, giving him four points in four games (1-3-4). Nash picked up the only assist, giving him 18 points in 16 games (12-6-18).

derek stepan hi-5 line 11-13

Derek Stepan scored his first goal of the season tonight, and has made his presence known since returning to the lineup, picking up four points in 4 games. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos and Getty Images.

 

Less than two minutes later, the Rangers would convert again after showing off some stellar puck possession. During the 4-on-4 and the brief power play for the Rangers, they controlled the puck for 1:13 consecutively, and leading to Dan Girardi’s first goal of the season. John Moore found Zuccarello down low, and he found Girardi in front, giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead.

Girardi was also the first Rangers defenseman to score a goal outside of Kevin Klein, who has three on the season.

New York nearly scored again on a Dom Moore breakaway, but Varlamov squeezed the pads to make a timely save and keep the Avalanche within one.

After being dominated for the first 25 minutes, the Rangers turned the game around and played good hockey in the second, getting back to Vigneault’s system and playing the same type of hockey they played against the Penguins.

The Rangers continued to get quality chances in the third period, outshooting Colorado 14-6 and getting most of the opportunities.

At around the seven minute mark, Jesper Fast took a lazy penalty, which was a holding call in the Rangers offensive zone. The Avalanche would convert on the ensuing power play, with Nathan MacKinnon getting credit for the goal. MacKinnon’s slap shot deflected off of Girardi’s stick and past Lundqvist, tying the game at three.

lundqvist save 11-13

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 shots against the Avalanche tonight, and kept the Rangers within striking distance in the early parts of the game. Lundqvist’s record is now 7-4-2. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos and Getty Images.

 

The Rangers would have plenty of chances to take the lead, including a power play opportunity, but Varlamov stood strong in net, blanking the Rangers in the third period and sending it to overtime.

In overtime, nothing really happened until the last minute or two. Both teams got a flurry of chances, with Zuccarello’s quick wrister getting through the pads of Varlamov but being cleared out of the crease, and Tenguay’s shot hitting the post.

The game would go to overtime, where Tenguay would put it past Lundqvist in the third round, and Stempniak was stopped by Varlamov, giving Colorado the win.

After talking so much about consistency, tonight’s loss is really disappointing for the Rangers. New York has had trouble consistently stringing together wins lately, and need to start getting those two and three game win streaks every once In a while. A game against the struggling Avalanche would have been a perfect time to take advantage of a struggling team and earn a win before heading back to Pittsburgh to face an angry Penguins team.

Henrik Lundqvist was steady tonight, making 29 saves on 32 shots. Lundqvist was important early, stopping the Avalanche’s offense so that the Rangers remained within striking distance.

Derek Stepan scored his first goal of the season, giving him four points in his first four games. The addition of Stepan helps in so many ways. It allows Martin St. Louis to play on the wing, and adds depth to the penalty kill and the power play. Stepan has great vision and a good shot when he wants to utilize it, like he did tonight.

derek stepan 11-13

Derek Stepan’s return to the Rangers lineup has really benefitted New York, improving almost all aspects of their game. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos and Getty Images.

 

Mats Zuccarello had another solid game. After struggling early in the season, “Zukes” seems to have found his stride, and has been scoring more recently. With the assist tonight, Zuccarello now has eight points in 14 games this season (3-5-8).

Kevin Hayes has been one of the most exciting players to watch grow and develop. The 6-foot-5 rookie, who signed with the Rangers in the offseason, has made the transition to center in the NHL, and has done quite a good job.

Apart from struggling in the faceoff circle, Hayes is impressive in all other categories. He is very intelligent, and makes really good decisions when he has the puck. As he plays more games, it is also easy to see him becoming more comfortable and confident with his play, as well as learning things like when to shoot and when to pass. He also scored his second goal of the season tonight, and was one of the driving forces in getting the Rangers back into the game.

Kevin Hayes 10-16

Kevin hayes continues to impress the coaching staff with his decision making, puck possession skills, as well as his offensive potential. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos and Getty Images.

 

Hayes has been a nice story and a solid third line center for New York, and now has two goals this season, along with three assists in 13 games.

Dan Girardi scored the third goal to give the Rangers the lead, which wound up being his first goal of the season. Girardi is just the second defenseman with a goal, and after stepping up in the absence of Ryan McDonagh, it was nice to see Girardi rewarded with a goal.

Dan Boyle had a pretty solid return to the Rangers lineup. Boyle had three shots on goal, as well as one block and one hit in just over 22 minutes of ice time. When Boyle was on the ice, both even strength and on the power play, the Rangers were able to cycle the puck a lot better, getting the defensemen and the forwards equally involved, and leading to a few scoring chances. He also played well defensively, and really helped out the Rangers on the back end.

dan boyle skating 11-13

Dan Boyle’s return to the Rangers lineup was a successful one. Boyle helped run the Rangers powerplay, which looked good on their two full opportunities, as well as at even strength, playing solid defense and cycling the puck. Boyle is also not afraid to shoot the puck, and had a few good scoring opportunities tonight. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos and Getty Images.

 

The next game for New York will be on Saturday, when the Rangers head to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins in a rematch of Tuesday’s game, where New York won 5-0. The Pens will be angry and looking for revenge against their division rivals.

THREE STARS
1) Kevin Hayes;
1 Goal, +1 rating,

2) Derick Stepan; 1 Goal, 4 shots on goal

3) Mats Zuccarello; 1 Assist

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Posted on November 14, 2014, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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