NEW YORK – You didn’t think the Rangers were going to go 81-1? And John Tortorella was warning everyone about it the last few games.
Yes all good things must come to an end and the Rangers seven game winning streak crashed down with a penalty filled 7-3 defeat to the San Jose Sharks.
“We were just in the penalty box and they had power plays and that’s where the momentum swung,” said forward Vinny Prospal. “We have been talking about this for some time…about the penalties. If you look at [the Sharks] personnel, this is a team that has a lot of skilled players that capitalize on the power plays and that is what happened tonight.”
All in all the Sharks were 2-7 on the power play, as opposed to the Rangers who were just 1-3 on the man advantage. But the extra pressure on Stephen Valiquette, who had to face five power plays, was just too much, especially against a powerful team in San Jose. Valiquette’s five goals on 18 shots performance was enough to get hi a seat for the third and a cold Henrik Lundqvist was just 2-12.
Valiquette to his credit thought the first San Jose goal – a 2-on-1 by Dany Heatley – the last one he gave up, Devin Setogchi’s second goal of the night, were blatantly his fault and took the blame himself.
“We do 2-on-1s all the time in practice, and I should have gotten that one,” Valiquette said. “It may have had a snowball effect in a negative way for us. In understand Henrik and I have to make the big saves and keep the ball rolling.”
All-in-all, the Sharks scored six unanswered goals on Valiquette and Lundqvist, after the Rangers went up 2-0 in the first on goals by Chris Drury and Michael Del Zotto. San Jose then dominated the last two periods of the game, mainly due to the penalties, which killed any Ranger momentum. By the time Enver Lisin was able to light the lamp in the third to make it 6-3, it was just too little too late.
Yet with every bad loss, there is opportunity and Tortorella will be looking at the tape to make some changes.
“We have things to work on,” he said. “The first two periods weren’t as bad what the score was at that point. I don’t think we were terrible. They scored some goals and we didn’t. Started off fine, but we put ourselves in the penalty problem.
“I guess if the stop taking them, they are going to lose some ice time along the way here. You talk about momentum swings and things like that…it just wrecks the flow of the game. And the only hammer we have as coaches is ice time.”
No one knows, yet if anyone will lose time this for this Thursday’s game against the Devils, but the coach has dropped the gauntlet.
Notes: The Rangers converted one of three power play opportunities to extend their streak to seven games (11-30, 36.7%) with at least one goal on the man advantage…Rangers captain Chris Drury opened the game’s scoring at 7:17 of the first period, while skating in his 800th career NHL contest…Rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto tallied a power play goal and registered four shots in 15:54 of icetime; entering the contest, he was one of only four rookie defensemen in the last 20 years to score at least eight points in his team’s first eight games of the season (Rob Blake – 10, Alexei Zhitnik – 9, and Matt Carle – 8); Del Zotto currently leads all NHL rookies in goals (four) and points (nine) and is tied for second in assists (five), and he leads all league defensemen in points, tied for the lead in defensemen goals and tied for seventh in defensemen assists.