Coming into Saturday night’s game, the New York Rangers built up the most amount of momentum they’ve had all season. With an outstanding victory in the previous game over the Buffalo Sabres-courtesy of Alexis Lafrenieres‘ overtime game-winning, goal-the Rangers looked to pick up their second win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in their last game of the month. To New Yorks’s credit, the Rangers did not ease off the gas by any means. In their third game against one another, both teams played a thrilling game to leave MSG Networks smiling at their ratings. However, did the Rangers have enough firepower to come out victorious over the Penguins, or did they resort to their inconsistent ways of hockey?
In an offensive standoff, the New York Rangers fell to the Penguins in a massive score of 5-4 in overtime. Although they picked up a point out of tonight, this loss drops the Rangers record to 2-4-2. As for the Penguins, they improve their record to 5-3-1 and wish to keep this momentum in their next game against the Blueshirts this Monday. In such a crazy game, the Rangers did a lot of good things and a lot of bad things. As far as offense goals, they racked up four goals with contributors throughout the lineup. In terms of defense, the Ranger’s lackadaisical efforts in the defensive zone proved costly. Unfortunately for the Rangers, this loss means more than a tally on the right side of their record. This loss means that the Rangers have now, in their last five losses, come up short by only one goal.
To start the first period, the Rangers looked comfortable against the Penguin. There were no signs of any major issues after the first twenty minutes of play. The scoring frenzy of a game got kicked off by Jason Zucker of the Penguins. Just 7:39 into the period, Pierre-Olivier Joseph found Zucker crashing the net from the backdoor to cash in on Josephs’s pass. Although it wasn’t an ideal start for the Rangers, they have been in this situation many times before. To counter, Brendan Lemieux-a fourth-line winger-crashed the net and was rewarded with a juicy rebound with his name on it. From there, despite having the edge the rest of the period, Brandon Tanev scored with just 39 seconds left in the period to sway the momentum in Pittsburgh’s favor as they headed into the locker room up 2-1.
With the momentum on Pittsburgh’s side, the Rangers set out to regain control of the game. In a little over seven minutes into the second period, K’Andre Miller and Kevin Rooney had an amazing short-handed opportunity to knot the game up at two. Both Rooney and Miller were all alone on a 2-0 and boy did they cash in. After Rooney’s pass to Miller, Miller quickly returned the favor back to Rooney who found himself with a wide-open net. From there, the Rangers faced another setback. Just a few minutes later, Kasperi Kapanen found himself on a breakaway against Alexander Georgiev. To give the Penguins the lead 3-2, Kapanen flipped the puck over Georgiev’s glove and into the back of the net.
Of course, if you thought the scoring would stop, you were dead wrong. Already finding themselves trailing through the majority of the game, the Rangers looked to turn the tides. With two goals in the span of six minutes, Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin found the net to give the Rangers the lead 4-3 as they headed into the third.
In a fairly sloppy game for both team’s defensive gameplay, it was evident at one point that this game could have ended in double digits. However, In the third period, both teams slowed the spread and only one goal was scored in the third. Unfortunately for the Rangers, it was not scored by a man wearing red, white, and blue. Nevertheless, the Rangers found themselves yet again heading into overtime. Although the Rangers were victorious in OT the game before, that wasn’t the case tonight. After an extremely long shift with Zibanejad, Panarin, and DeAngelo on the ice, Sydney Crosby put an end to the Ranger’s exhaustion. His goal through the legs of Georgiev left the Rangers not only tired but demoralized. In another winnable game that slipped out of their hands, frustration seems to be brewing in New York.
Takeaways From Tonights Game
Fortunately for the Blueshirt, their record does not entirely reflect their play. With some players like K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere making big strides in the past couple of games, I would be foolish to say that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. Now that the Ranger’s top six are beginning to perform better, the team is starting to find their identity. However, at the end of the day, the Rangers lost a hockey game tonight. In my opinion, the root of the problem has to do with face-offs. The Rangers have continuously found themselves with some of the worst centermen when at the red dot. Year in and year out, it is obviously not a priority of this team to win face-offs. To tell the Rangers the truth though, this is a massive problem that must be fixed immediately.
Players are starting to shine, the team is beginning to gel, but face-offs and puck possession continue to be an issue. To win games, you must have the puck. Yet for some reason, the value of gaining puck possession seems to be at the bottom of David Quinn’s priority list.