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Rangers drop first game of the season to Winnipeg; Zuccarello scores again

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers celebrate a goal 10-13

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

It was arguably the Rangers best 60 minute performance of the season, but they came away empty handed.

The Rangers (3-1-0) lost their first game of the season at home to a strong Winnipeg Jets (3-1-0) team, giving up four straight goals and failing to capitalize on multiple power play opportunities, leading to a 4-1 scoreline.

The Rangers were the better team throughout the game, outchancing the Jets at 5v5 and recording 12 more shots on goal. They had plenty of opportunities to run away with the game, but ran into a hot goaltender named Michael Hutchinson.

Michael Hutchinson improved his record to 2-0-0 on the season, and allowed just one goal on 41 shots, stealing the game away for the Jets. When the Rangers had power play after power play in the second period, he kept Winnipeg in the game.

Dylan McIlrath made his season debut tonight, playing just over 12 minutes in this game. After the first period, he didn’t get a ton of consistent playing time due to the constant penalties. He looked good in the first period, but this wasn’t a fair evaluation of his game. He should play in Montreal on Thursday.

dylan mcilrath full body 10-13

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The game opened up with a lot of back and forth action, and we nearly saw McIlrath score his first career NHL goal. He blasted a shot from the point that practically dented the crossbar and went up into the crowds. The Brassard and Stepan lines were very strong early.

Mats Zuccarello opened the scoring just 6:45 into the game, capitalizing on a turnover forced by Rick Nash. Nash took the puck away at the Jets blue line, and started a 3-on-1 with Brassard and Zuccs. After some slick passing, Zuccarello wristed the puck past Hutchinson to give New York an early lead.

But the Rangers took a hooking penalty less than a minute later, and the Jets capitalized on the man advantage. Nikolaj Ehlers scored his first NHL with an incredible slap shot, beating Lundqvist over the shoulder and tying the game at one.

The first period was wide open, and both team had some great chances. The first line continued to work hard and get shots on goal, and Rick Nash was most noticeable. Henrik Lundqvist made some great saves, including this one on Alex Burmistrov.

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The second period saw the Rangers get five separate power play opportunities, four full ones, yet AV’s team could not score on any of them. Part of it was due to poor execution, while Hutchinson also made some fantastic saves too.

This game largely turned into a special teams battle, and the Rangers are not great in these types of games. If a game stays largely 5v5, that’s where Vigneault and his system works best. The Rangers need to stay out of the box in order to win games.

Winnipeg only scored the goal in the period, a shorthanded goal from Bryan Little. After an icing on the Rangers, Winnipeg won the faceoff, and following a blocked shot from the Rangers, Little collected the loose puck and shot it past a screened Lundqvist, giving the Jets the lead.

The Jets would continue to get good goaltending from Hutchinson in the third period, and scored two more times. Bryan Little scored his second goal of the game on the period on the power play, and Mark Stuart sealed the victory with an empty netter.

This was the best game from the first line all season. They were aggressive throughout the 60 minutes, combining for 11 shots on goal and even more chances. Nash was very noticeable and played with a bit of edge too. Zuccarello has three goals already, and seems to be more aggressive so far. It’s really nice to see him shooting the puck more, because he has a great wrist shot.

mats zuccarello pass 10-13

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Kevin Hayes is a wonderful second line winger, and he has not had a problem being a playmaker on the wing. But today, he seemed a bit hesitant to take some of his chances. He did record four shots on goal, but he seems hesitant to shoot on other occasions. I’d like to see him try and take a shot more often instead of making a tough pass.

Going 0-5 on the power play isn’t acceptable. The Rangers did have some good opportunities and scoring chances on the man advantage, but couldn’t capitalize. It’s only one game so there is no reason for a big panic, but they have to be better.

The Rangers are back on the road for one game this Thursday when they take on the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

THREE STARS

1) Mats Zuccarello – 1 G, 5 SOG, 9 SA, 20:49 TOT

2) Rick Nash – 1 A, 5 SOG, 18:10 TOT

3) Keith Yandle – 5 SOG, 1 BS, 2 HT, 20:15 TOT

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Posted on October 14, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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