NEW YORK – For 50 minutes, the Rangers were perfect, stopping all comers with some smart goals and good netminding by Martin Biron.
Too bad, the Rangers couldn’t do that the first 10 minutes of the game.
Four goals by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first half of the first period, doomed the Rangers and their four game winning streak and Chicago broke their nine game winless streak with a 4-2 victory at the Garden.
“We weren’t good enough in the first,” said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. “We were giving up breakaways, we weren’t good defensively. You’re going to have periods like that. I think we responded well, but a four-goal lead in this league is obviously a steep hill to come back from. They outplayed us in the first period, there’s no question there. Whether that’s because they’re desperate, I don’t know. I think that’s a big part of it – they want to win, but we have to worry about us, not them, and I didn’t think our first period was good enough.”
It started quickly with a penalty shot awarded to Jonathan Toews 1:05 in, as the referees called Dan Girardi for covering the puck in the crease, even though replays showed otherwise.
The Blackhawks captain put it through Biron’s legs to make it 1-0.
“It’s one of those situations where you have a chance to give your team some momentum,” Biron said. “I didn’t come up with it. It’s a chance for a goaltender to make a save to give your team either momentum or to save the game. That was my chance to make that big save and I didn’t do it.”
Then a little over a minute later Nick Leddy doubled the lead with a shot from the point which was screened by John Scott, a 6’8” 270 bound forward.
Less than two minutes after that, it was 3-0 when Patrick Sharp had a breakaway from a feed by Toews.
The Garden faithful was chanting for No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist, but coach John Tortorella kept his backup in to “get through” the trouble.
Although Marion Hossa had a breakaway at 9:38 and made it 4-0 with a 5-hole shot, the Rangers were able to settle down and make it a game.
“I think we’re going to look at that first period, we’re going to learn from it, see what went wrong, and fix it and respond from that,” said defenseman Marc Staal, who scored his first goal of the year early in the second period. “We responded well (in the second and third periods) and we didn’t give up. We played hard for the rest of that game, and it was kind of interesting in the end but it just wasn’t enough to get us back in the game.”
Carl Hagelin made it 4-2 in the third and it could have been closer, but Callahan had a goal that was waived off late in the second, after the referees said they saw the puck under Corey Crawford’s skate and blew the whistle.
Although, the Rangers looked horrible early, Tortorella seemed OK with his team’s four game winning streak being snapped.
“Our team was ready to play,” he said “We just made some mistakes. It happens. But I am happy the way we battled back. Some teams would pack it in. We didn’t; we played hard. We will hopefully try to build on it.”