New York, NY – The New York Rangers (4-3-1) had many key opportunities but could not complete the comeback in the 6-4 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers (4-4-1) in hockey action on Wednesday night. It was a gut wrenching, fast paced, high scoring game
The Rangers who scratched and scrapped their way back into the game just could not convert on many key scoring opportunities in both the first and third periods, after playing a brand of hockey in the second period that Blueshirts fans hope not to see again this season.
For most of the part in this young season the Rangers have grinded, and outworked the other team. Fans would see blocked shots, solid defense along with some stellar offensive opportunities. Well for one whole period on a late Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden a crowd of 17,900 did not see that, and it led to a three game winning streak coming to a grinding halt.
“We lost and we deserved to lose. We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that type of spot. We didn’t stay within ourselves and play the way we needed to. We shouldn’t let it get out of hand,” said head coach John Tortorella after the game.
New York got on the board quickly thanks to a goal by Ryan Callahan (2), pounding in a wrist shot from Artem Anisimov (3) at the 0:36 mark of the first period. The Rangers had a barrage of shots at Atlanta keeper Chris Mason, but Mason laid down a good foundation for the eventual victory.
The Thrashers came back with a shooting barrage of their own and eventually netted their first goal in the 11:28 mark of the first period as Bryan Little (1) came up big with a sweet puck handling move to get the puck past Rangers keeper Martin Biron.
“They skated well, but at the end they crashed the net and they threw pucks at the net,” said Biron, who was giving the normal starter Henrik Lundqvist some rest in the start tonight. “That is what everyone does, and that’s what we’re trying to do and that is how we got our goals. When you think about it that is how we got our goals is when we banged around the net, and that‘s what they did too.”
After some good stops by Biron and solid defensive plays the two teams went into the locker room at 1-1 with the Thrashers outscoring the Blueshirts by a tally of 12-10. It was in the second period that the sloppy play of the Rangers occurred and the team did not play that brand of hockey that has made them successful thus far this season.
Atlanta was able to gain a brief 2-1 lead from a goal by Evander Kane (6) who wrested in a shot at the 10:17 mark of that frame. Ranger’s winger Sean Avery (1) responded with a workman like wrap-around goal at the 12:48 mark to tie the two teams up again.
A response from the Thrashers was soon to follow as Niclas Bergfors (1) sent a wrist shot to the top shelf of Martin Biron at the 16:07 mark to give the Thrashers the 3-2 lead as the second period finally came to an end.
Bergfors who netted his first goal of the season had this to say, “It’s always a relief. It gives you confidence and hopefully you can build on that. I’ve been working really hard on practice and it finally came so it was nice.”
In the third though the Thrashers did not let up on the scoring throttle as Eric Boulton (1) and Dustin Byfuglien (3) both netted goals for the 5-2 lead. Byfuglien was able to net his goal on the strength of the Atlanta power play, who took advantage of a 2:00 minute interference call on Michael Del Zotto.
The Rangers did not quit though as a bit of history happened for New York, as center Todd White netted his first goal for New York at the 7:56 mark. White who cashed in on a beautiful wrist shot which was set up by Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. Brian Boyle (3) cut into the Thrashers lead making the score 5-4 by netting a wrist shot of his own at the 10:07 mark.
As the final minutes of the third period slowly ticked away it had seemed as if every puck, every pass was just hit with too much force. Even an attempted goal by Matt Gilroy with 12:38 mark just went wide of the net; combined with an empty net goal from the Thrashers Andrew Ladd (4) had the Rangers skating away with a tough 6-4 loss.
“We didn’t give up. We were down three goals and kept going after them and kept playing. That’s a positive that you can take into Friday,” said Marc Staal after the game.
Head coach John Tortorella agreed but said, “This team needs to learn how to take that next step and play consistently enough to win games. It is on us to find that answer on how to play more consistently, so now we go into practice tomorrow and get ourselves ready for Carolina.”
The team will look to take that next step against Carolina for a 7:00 p.m. face-off at Madison Square Garden.