The Rangers were handed a large slice of humble pie, courtesy of the Calgary Flames, as they dropped a 5-1 decision at Madison Square Garden last night. The loss snapped their four game win streak while Calgary won their third in a row.
Flames’ left wing Andrew Mangiapane scored twice and goaltender Jacob Markstrom continued to stymie the Rangers as he made 28 saves to improve to 7-2-1 in his career against the “Blueshirts.”
The Rangers were on their heels from the start and could get nothing going offensively as Calgary put forth a tremendous defensive effort. The Flames dominated the neutral zone and capitalized on a number of Rangers’ mistakes.
Even though the Rangers gave up three goals in the third period, coach Gerard Gallant felt they lost the game in the first period. Calgary dominated the play, kept the Rangers pinned in their own end and left the ice after one with a 1-0 lead. “We just made so many bad turnovers in the first period, trying to make cute plays instead of the strong plays up the boards. It really cost us, Gallant said.”
The first period numbers were ugly. The Flames had 15 shots on 30 attempts, while the Rangers had 7 shots on 16 attempts, but the key number was turnovers.
The Rangers were credited with 9 giveaways in the first period and finished with an eye opening 20 for the game. Julian Gauthier led that department with three giveaways, while five other Rangers (Filip Chytil, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Mike Zibanejed, and Jacob Trouba) made the score sheet with two apiece.
Despite the 5-1 score, Igor Shesterkin was outstanding once again. Without their young goaltender, this game would’ve been out of reach for the Rangers before the first period was over.
With the game still scoreless in the first, Flames center Sean Monahan found himself wide open in front of the net, but “Shesty” was equal to the task as he denied the Flames’ center.
With 1:10 left in the period, Calgary defenseman Christopher Tanev took a cross ice feed from left wing Johnny Gaudreau and beat Shesterkin on the glove side for a 1-0 lead after one. “Overall sloppy. Slot turnovers killed our offense, especially in the first,” Trouba said. “They’re a good team off the rush and you give em chances on the rush they’re gonna take advantage of ‘em so I think that was a big key.”
Early in the second period, Rangers’ defenseman Patrik Nemeth literally passed the puck, from behind his own goal line, right to Mangiapane in the right face off circle. The Flames winger did a spin move and fired the puck past Shesterkin for a 2-0 lead. “They’re a team that plays pretty sound defensively and as soon as there’s a turnover, they strike and we made too many turnovers and fueled their offense a little bit,” Ryan Strome said in his first game back after missing the previous four due to Covid.
The Rangers’ center got 19:07 of ice time and was 11 for 12 on face offs. Strome said, “I felt pretty good out there. It’s never easy to miss ten days, mentally and physically, but I thought my physical conditioning was good.”
Rangers cut the lead to 2-1 on a goal by Kevin Rooney. Trouba put the puck on net and Rooney (the goal was originally credited to Dryden Hunt) was able to bury the rebound as the Garden crowd exploded with thoughts of a comeback like the one two days ago in Ottawa.
It wasn’t to be as the Flames’ Blake Coleman scored his second of the season to snuff out the Rangers’ momentum. Less than three minutes later, Mikael Backlund scored his first of the season for a 4-1 lead.
Mangiapane’s second goal of the game came with the man advantage with five seconds left. Chytil was in the box for high sticking and the goal snapped the Rangers streak of killing off 14 consecutive power plays.
The Rangers took a hit to their lineup when rugged right wing Ryan Reaves left the game after one shift in the first period with a lower body injury. Reaves returned to the bench but was not able to play and the Rangers missed his muscle against a physical Flames’ team that put 37 shots on net.
The Rangers won the face off stat (31-20) and had more hits (27-20) but they continue to struggle with putting the puck in the net.
With one goal, the Rangers have scored only 15 goals in 7 games. A big reason for the lack of scoring is the power play continues to sputter. The Rangers were 0 for 2 and now 3 for 26 on the young season with the man advantage.
The Rangers were playing their 7th game in 12 days but Gallant would not use that as an excuse. “I think we’ve played the most games in the league with all our travel, but, again, I’m not making excuses.”
Rangers get three days off before hosting Columbus on Friday night, followed by another four game road trip that will take them to Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton and a rematch with the Flames in Calgary.