Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rangers Drop 5 of Last 6

Scoring continues to be a problem as the New York Rangers lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 at home at Madison Square Garden Saturday night.

Fans were nervous going into the second period as the Rangers got off 11 shots in the first and none of them were scoring threats. Then early in the second period Jaromir Jagr tried to alleviate everyone’s concerns as he scored to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

Just over five minutes into the period Michal Rozsival intercepted a pass at center ice and made a nice pass off the boards to Jagr on the right side. As Jagr skated into the zone he took a hard wrist shot from the right face-off circle. The shot beat Maple Leaf goalie Vesa Toskala who could not see because he was being screened by defenseman Hal Gill.

Coming off of two shutouts in his past three games, Henrik Lundqvist looked strong again early. Just after Jagr put his team ahead and with the Rangers on a power play Lundqvist made a terrific stop on a Boyd Devereaux breakaway. Devereaux received a very long pass from deep in the defensive zone to center ice then muscled his way past a Ranger’s defenseman only to be turned away by Lundqvist.

The good feelings from Jagr putting the team up and Lundqvist making a highlight reel save didn’t last long, less than three minutes later Pavel Kubina scored his first of the season to tie the game 1-1. The Rangers had their chances to keep the goal from happening but were not able to control rebounds or clear the puck from the zone and after moving the puck around from deep into the zone to Tomas Kaberle on the left point then to Kubina on the right point, Kubina just blasted a shot from the blue-line and the puck was deflected by a player in front of the net before going past Lundqvist.

The goal was the first even strength goal given up by Lundqvist in over a week dating back to the loss in Atlanta against the Trashers on October 18.

The Maple Leafs took a 2-1 lead with just under five minutes left to go in the second period when Lundqvist botched a play behind the net. After the Leafs dumped the puck into the zone he went behind the net to pass the puck to a Ranger defenseman, but turned it over to Devereaux who was aggressively fore-checking. Devereaux was then able to make a smooth pass in front of the net to Johnny Pohl who got off a textbook one-timer slap shot for the goal.

Now the Rangers were down 2-1 and needed to keep the score right there. Instead they allowed a third goal just 1:20 after the second. This time it was Nik Antropov who was able to score when he received a centering pass from Kaberle right in front of the net and just pushed it past Lundqvist to put the Leafs up 3-1.

In the third period, with the fans booing loudly and often, the Rangers had a number of chances but were not able to get any shots past Toskala. The scoring was not over though as the Leafs added one more goal with about 15 seconds left when Chad Kilger took advantage of an empty net to put his team up 4-1.

Despite Lundqvist giving up three goals in this game the offense was definitely to blame for this loss. The Rangers out shot Toronto and had better chances, but were never able to capitalize. This is only the third time in 10 games that Lundqvist allowed three goals or more and top offensive players, Jagr, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Brendan Shanahan, have merely six goals combined over that span. Through 10 games last season the quartet had 25 goals between them.

Read more Rangers news and other NY teams @ Hot Stove New York and Rangers Press.

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