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Rangers fall short in Cup Final rematch; Zuccarello snaps goal drought

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers bench 3-24

The Rangers bench looks dejected after a disappointing home-ice loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Concluding a brief two game homestand, the Rangers (48-19-7) getting beat in most facets of the game, and taking 4-2 loss against the Los Angeles Kings (36-23-14) by a final score of 4-2.

The Rangers were simply outmuscled, outworked, and outplayed in this one. They weren’t sharp, often losing puck battles and giving up silly turnovers. Vigneault said it best in the postgame interview, saying, “We were second on the puck, and second on one-on-ones. Our execution wasn’t what it needed to be against a strong opponents. We paid the price.”

It wasn’t a lack of effort, it was simply the fact that the Kings played like a team desperate to get into the playoffs. It was a great performance on their part, and they didn’t let the fatigue factor from their game last night get to them.

The loss snapped a two game win streak for the Rangers, and keeps them at 99 points, six points ahead of the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. The Canadiens lost in overtime, but picked up a point, putting them one point ahead of New York in the race for the President’s Trophy.

It was the first time the Rangers, as well as Talbot, had given up three goals since February 28th, but they still have a 7-1-1 record in the last nine games. Talbot finished with 31 saves on 35 shots, making some big saves but getting overwhelmed by a relentless Los Angeles offense.

The game started out really great for the Rangers, scoring just 51 seconds into the opening period. It was the dynamic line of JT Miller, Derick Brassard, and Mats Zuccarello that got things started, and it was Zuccarello finding the back of the net for the first time in 14 games, extending his point streak to three games (1-3-4).

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Mats Zuccarello celebrates after scoring 51 seconds into the game, his first goal in 14 games. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The play was really all a result of JT Millers work along the boards. Miller carried it into the Kings zone, traveling along the boards and fighting off the checks of Drew Doughty. Miller came away from the boards with the puck, attacked the net and got the puck to Zuccarello, who fired a wrister top shelf for the first goal of the game.

After a few minutes, the wheels began to fall off for New York, and the Kings began to dominate the possession and scoring chances, eventually finishing the period with 38 shot attempts. Although a good portion of them were from the outside, the Rangers were still losing the possession battle by a long shot. The shot total in the first would finish 17-12 in favor of the Kings.

The Kings goal in the period came off of a fluke bounce, and it was Robyn Regeher scoring just his second goal of the season. Regeher’s slap shot from the point hit off of either Keith Yandle’s skate or leg, just enough of a change to throw off Talbot and find the back of the net.

The second period was totally dominated by the Kings, and they scored a goal to extend their lead to 2-1, with a 31-21 shot advantage at the end of 40 minutes. The first goal was scored by the former Ranger Marian Gaborik, his 23rd of the season. Talbot went to play the puck behind the net, but instead turned it over. Justin Williams fed the puck to Anze Kopitar, and Talbot could not get the pad over in time to save Gaborik’s shot into a virtually open net.

The third period was a similar story for the Rangers, with New York only building momentumand the Kings would score two more goals. Jeff Carter scored the first one, converting off of a New York turnover at the blue line. Dwight King made a great pass through the crease for a tap-in, putting LA up 3-1. Jake Muzzin scored the second goal, after Kopitar worked the puck deep, wrapping around the back of the net and finding Muzzin at the point for a one-timer. That pretty much sealed the win for the Kings.

The Rangers would get one back, and it was the rookie Kevin Hayes scoring his 14th goal of the season. Following a faceoff win, the puck went to Dan Boyle at the point, and he passed it off to Hayes, who patiently waited for a seam in the defense. His wrist shot deflected off of the stick of Mike Richards and past Quick, cutting the lead to 2 goals. Hayes now has 20 points (8-12-20) in the last 26 games. But it was not enough, and the Rangers suffered a disappointing loss to the Kings.

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Kevin Hayes scored his 14th goal of the season late in the third period. Giving him 20 points in the last 26 games. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

There were a few bright spots in the game, with the brightest being the Brassard line. With JT Miller and Mats Zuccarello by his side, this was the one line that was able to generate somewhat consistent scoring chances. Miller made some fantastic possession plays, and Zuccarello was able to end his goal drought. “Zukes” effort every night is amazing, and he was all over the ice tonight. They continue to work wonders together, and were the best line again by far.

Dan Girardi was outstanding tonight, especially early on in the game. Girardi saved a goal on at least one occasion, lifting Gaborik’s stick and using his body to push him away, saving a goal. He broke up a few two-on-one chances, and had an active stick throughout the game. He may not drive possession or score a lot, but he is a very steady defenseman, and extremely reliable in his own zone.

The Rangers will travel to Ottawa for their next game, where they will take on a Senators team that is 15-1-1 in their last 17 games, thanks to Anrew Hammond, or the “Hamburglar,” and his impressive 14-0-1 record.

THREE STARS

1) Mats Zuccarello – 1 G, 2 SOG, 16:11 TOT

2) Dan Girardi – 2 SOG, 3 BS, 1 HT, 21:52 TOT

3) JT Miller – 1 A, 1 SOG, 3 HT, 15:36 TOT

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Posted on March 25, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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