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Rangers fall short in battle against Montreal

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers dropped their second consecutive game since the All Star Break, getting shut out by Carey Price and the Canadiens. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (27-15-4) lost their second consecutive game, getting shut out by the Montreal Canadiens (31-13-3) by a final score of 1-0. In a game showcased by goaltending and defense, it was a single shot from Max Pacorietty that beat a screened Henrik Lundqvist late in the third period.

It was the third time that New York has been shut out in the last six games, and they have scored two or more goals just twice in that same span. Carey Price was very strong in net for the Canadiens, making a few clutch saves en route to his third shutout of the season. Price stopped all 24 shots he faced, with his best save coming late in the third period on Martin St. Louis as he tried to tip in a puck out of midair.

Henrik Lundqvist started in net for the Rangers, and also had a very strong game in net. Lundqvist made some fantastic saves in the first period on Dale Weise and Pacorietty. Lundqvist did enough for his team to win, allowing just one goal, but the Rangers offense let him down for the second consecutive game.

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Henrik Lundqvist was strong in net for the Rangers yet again, stopping 25 of the 26 shots that he faced, but received no help from his offense yet again. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The first period was thrilling, with both the Rangers and the Canadiens coming out and playing the fast paced game that they both like to employ. The Rangers first good scoring chance came on the stick of Jesper Fast, who was fed from Kevin Hayes behind the net for a one timer, but Price was there to stop it.

Carey Price also made a great save later in the period, stopping a backhand from Dan Girardi who was alone in front after a great pass from Derek Stepan.

The Rangers forecheck was much more aggressive in tonight’s game, creating turnovers and limiting Montreal’s chances during the first half of the period. The game was also quite chippy, with Chris Kreider and PK Subban going at it throughout the first, and Tanner Glass dropping the gloves with former Ranger Brandon Prust.

Lundqvist also shined in the first, making a lunging left pad save on a Dale Weise one-timer, stopping the puck just along the goal line, a call that was upheld by video rule. He would make another stellar save with 14.3 seconds remaining in the first period, using the glove to rob a rocket shot from Max Pacorietty following a Ryan McDonagh turnover. The period ended with the Canadiens up in shots, 11-10.

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One of Henrik Lundqvist’s best saves of the night came in the first period, using the glove to rob Max Pacorietty’s quick wrist shot. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers had a few more quality chances to score throughout the game, most notably a Martin St. Louis slap shot that hit iron 13:18 into the second period, which came right after Chris Kreider made a slick move to beat Carey Price, but could not get the stick on the puck to put it in the back of the net.

In the third period, Derek Stepan centered a puck that connected with the pads of Price and bounced into the air. Martin St. Louis tried to tap it in, but Price made a sprawling save to keep the Rangers off the board.

The lone goal came with just 4:17 remaining in the third period, with Max Pacorietty scoring his 22nd goal of the season. Pacioretty shot the puck through the legs of Ryan McDonagh, screening Henrik Lundqvist in the process. The puck found the smallest of holes between Lundqvist and the post, but found the back of the net, giving the Canadiens the only goal they needed.

This was a really tough loss for the Rangers. They came out fast and aggressive, generating chances but not finishing against Carey Price, who is having a sensational season.

They continue to struggle to find the back of the net consistently, and have not figured out a way to spread out the scoring across all four lines. One of the biggest problems the Rangers have is when Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Derick Brassard or Derek Stepan are not scoring, the entire team is not scoring.

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Rick Nash is the Rangers leading goal scorer this season, but when Nash and the other top scorers are not finding the back of the net, the rest of the team has trouble picking up the slack. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Despite making changes to the forwards, the bottom six was hardly noticeable throughout the night. The lines of Hagelin-Moore-Stempniak and Glass-Hayes-fast generated just four shots on goal throughout the entire game, with Fast having the only quality chance out of all of them.

Alain Vigneault decided to stick with Tanner Glass in the lineup over JT Miller, a mistake he has made too many times this season. Glass is arguably the worst offensive player in the league, posting some of the lowest Corsi and possession numbers amongst NHL forwards. JT Miller has shown that he can contribute to the offensive game, scoring five goals with 5 assists in 24 games this season. Miller also has more than double the amount of shots that Tanner Glass has, despite playing nine less games.

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JT Miller has shown the team that he can contribute to the Rangers offense and on the power play, so why isn’t he in the lineup? Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

After watching the last two games, it’s easy to see that Rangers could use players like JT Miller, and even Anthony Duclair, who was sent back to Juniors, in the lineup; young, hungry guys with scoring ability and a chance to score on any given night. Miller deserves a spot in the lineup, and the Rangers may be regretting sending down Anthony Duclair to his junior hockey club.

A big problem has been the lack of production from Mats Zuccarello, who is still playing on the Rangers first line despite scoring just one goal in the last 18 games. Zuccarello is trusted with top line minutes, and he needs to start playing like a top line winger. “Zukes” was the Rangers leading scorer last season, posting a statline of 19-40-59, but has lacked the scoring touch this season.

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Mats Zuccarello continues to struggle to score, with just one goal in his last 18 games. He does have nine assists in that span, but needs to contribute a lot more, especially on the team’s top line. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Earlier in the season, the line of Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, and Martin St. Louis flourished, scoring goals almost every single night. That is a line that needs to get back together in order to jump start the Rangers offense.

One bright spot was the defensive play of the Rangers. The lone Canadiens goal was a bit flukey, and the defensemen largely did a solid job shutting down Montreal for most of the game. However, the Rangers continue to lack production from their defensemen. The Blueshirts have just one goal from a defensemen in the last eight games, and have not been able to generate much offense from the blue line.

Ryan McDonagh, who finished last season with 43 points, has just two points in his last 11 games. Kevin Klein leads Rangers defensemen with 17 points, but has not scored since the game against the Kings on January 8th. Dan Boyle has been disappointing lately, dropping to the third defensive pairing and being held pointless in his last eight games.

And lastly, the Rangers power play has fallen flat once again, after surging during their span of 13 wins in 14 games. New York was 0-2 on the power play tonight, giving them just two goals in their last 22 opportunities on the man advantage.

The Rangers have a lot to work on in order to get back to the same style of play that had them red-hot through the month of December and early January, and it starts with a more balanced attack and scoring from all four lines.

The Rangers next game will be on Saturday, where they will take on the struggling but resilient Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.

THREE STARS

  • Henrik Lundqvist – 25 saves, .962 SV%
  • Martin St. Louis – 3 SOG, 19:07 TOT
  • Dan Girardi – 3 BS, 7 HT, 24:53 TOT
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Posted on January 30, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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