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Rangers lose the game and Derek Stepan in Boston

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs bruins 11-27

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After a shockingly poor performance against the Canadiens, the Rangers (16-5-2) came out and played better, but could not win as the Boston Bruins (13-8-1) secured their fifth consecutive win by a final score of 4-3, with some help from the officials.

It was an intense back-and-forth affair with a lot of aggressive play, typical of a rivalry matchup we’ve seen from these two teams over the years. Despite an improved performance and steadfast play, a pair of late goals swung the game in Boston’s favor.

Part of the reason why the Rangers loss was due to a dirty, late hit from Matt Beleskey on Derek Stepan. Beleskey hit the Rangers center well after a pass and into the boards headfirst. The Rangers were without him for the last 38 minutes of the game, which really hurt late in game on defense.

It was announced after the game that Stepan “broke some ribs and is out indefinitely.” This could be a crucial blow to the lineup.

The opening period was packed with action, very evenly matched and full of rushes up and down the ice. The Rangers had a great chance early on, with Mats Zuccarello skating past defenders into Boston’s zone, centering a pass that got caught up in the bodies in front of the net, and then taking the loose puck and sending it off the post.

After that, Henrik Lundqvist was forced to make a breakaway save on Joonas Kemppanainen after Oscar Lindberg turned the puck over at the blue line. Hank then followed that up with an excellent left pad and glove save on Loui Eriksson.

The Rangers got a chance on the power play against Boston’s 27th ranked penalty kill, and it looked about as bad as it could. The Bruins had one shot on goal, while the Rangers didn’t record one. Vigneault still wasn’t using Keith Yandle on the first unit, hardly getting any time in the offensive zone.

The Bruins opened the scoring in the period, with Patrice Bergeron scoring his eighth goal and his 22nd point of the season. After an icing from the third line, the Bruins won the faceoff, and sent a shot that was blocked by Lindberg. Bergeron pounced on the rebound, somehow sneaking it through the wickets of Lundqvist.

Upon further review, Brad Marchand’s skate yanked Lundqvist’s stick and opened his pads. It should have been goalie interference, but the refs missed it and there was no challenge. AV said that it was because Henrik was slightly out of the crease, so they didn’t think that they’d get the call. The Bruins headed into the locker room up a goal and up in shots, 12-7.

The second period looked like it was going to wind up really good for the Rangers. After getting shutout for the first period, they scored just 2:10 into the second period. The third line was strong on the forecheck, with Jesper Fast and JT Miller working the puck over to Oscar Lindberg behind the net. The rookie outmuscled two defenders and sent a wrist shot through Tuukka Rask and tying the game at one.

Just over three minutes later, the Rangers scored yet again, and it was Rick Nash scoring his sixth goal in the past four games. Ryan McDonagh did an excellent job of keeping the puck in at the blue line, and finding Nash alone in front. He used his quick hands to deke out Rask and find the back of the net, giving New York the lead 5:15 into the period.

rick nash goal 11-27

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Just over eight minutes into the period, the referees made one of the worst and most embarrassing calls against the Rangers this season. Matt Beleskey sent Derek Stepan flying headfirst into the boards well after he passed the puck, prompting Dylan McIlrath to come over and give Beleskey some much deserved right hooks to the face.

Instead of Beleskey getting a roughing or boarding penalty, McIlrath got called for an instigator and then a 10 minute misconduct, giving him 17 penalty minutes when it should have been Belesky getting the extended time in the box.

Derek Stepan left the ice after the hit and did not return.

On top of that, the Bruins would go on to score on that very power play, with Brett Connolly firing a wrister through Lundqvist and tying the game at two goals apiece. It was a sequence of calls and no calls that the on ice officials should really be ashamed of.

The Bruins gained some late momentum, and Lundqvist was called upon to turn aside a quick snap shot from Bergeron as the buzzer sounded, his 20th save of the night. The third period saw the same aggressive and chippy play carry over from last period, including a goalie interference on Brad Marchand as he kneed Henrik Lundqvist in the head. There were hits, punches thrown and some pushing and shoving, typical of a Rangers-Bruins game.

After Brad Marchand took the goalie interference penalty, the Rangers got a power play opportunity, their third of the game, and they converted this time. With Klein and Yandle at the point, Yandle shot a puck from the point through traffic, hitting off of JT Miller’s body, ricocheting off of the post and then Rask’s back, crossing the line for their third goal of the game, and Miller’s fourth of the season.

New York held on for the next seven minutes or so until Jesper Fast was called for holding, a foolish penalty to take at that stage of the game. On the power play, Torey Krug’s shot was deflected by Loui Eriksson, which Lundqvist stopped. But Ryan Spooner read the play and cut to the net, shooting the rebound off of Lundqvist’s chest and into the net.

With the game tied, the Bruins went for the kill, and scored the game winning goal with 1:43 remaining, as David Krejci’s slapshot found twine, and Boston led 4-3. After pulling the goalie, the Rangers could not stage a comeback, dropping their second straight game.

Despite being outshot 34-27, I thought the Rangers really played a decent game. But yet again, a few mistakes and miscues cost the team. Jesper Fast’s holding penalty cost the team the game, putting the best power play back on the ice late in the game.

Also, the NHL Department of Player Safety really needs to take action. They’ve been pretty relaxed giving out penalties this year, letting players off with a small fine and a slap on the wrist on plays that were dangerous. This was a dangerous hit, a late hit, and it caused an injury. Matt Beleskey deserves a suspension.

With Stepan gone, it’ll be interesting to see how Vigneault handles it. Stepan is a crucial member of the penalty kill, an excellent defensive center, and he can be counted on for scoring. Losing him long term will hurt, a lot. Kevin Hayes could play second line center, Etem will be an everyday player, and someone will be recalled from Hartford.

Is this the start of a regression? The possession, PDO and goals against may be heading back to normal, and if the Rangers don’t improve their all-around play with Stepan out, they could be in for a rough stretch.

The Rangers will be back at it tomorrow afternoon against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden.

THREE STARS

1) Rick Nash – 1 G, 3 SOG, 18:58 TOT

2) JT Miller – 1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, 3 HT, 11:09 TOT

3) Oscar Lindberg – 1 G, 3 SOG, 2 BS, 2 HT, 15:21 TOT

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Posted on November 27, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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