The New York Rangers have been stuck in neutral for about seven weeks. It again showed its ugly head today as the Blueshirts were unable to overcome the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Vegas walked into Madison Square Garden and took the Rangers out comfortably. The Knights showed their Stanley Cup pedigree, and New York couldn't keep up with the task. It was an embarrassing performance, and there are going to need to be conversations soon.
It started poorly when Nicolas Hague kept a puck in the offensive zone and sent it over to the wing as Paul Cotter gathered it. He fired a shot that hit the shaft of the stick of Sheldon Rempal for his second NHL goal, and the Rangers fell behind early in this one. Igor Shesterkin probably would have wanted to do better with that for a goalie of his caliber, but you cannot expect a save in that situation.
Adam Fox would skate into the zone and cut back before dishing the puck back to the point for Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson took a minute to observe the ice before picking out Blake Wheeler at the right circle. He slapped one home and the Rangers had tied this game up. It had been a very strong performance in the second for the Blueshirts, but the Rangers needed to get the next goal.
At the first intermission, we got word that Ryan Lindgren would not return to the game as he suffered with an injury. Meaning that the Blueshirts were down to five defensemen, and the traditional partner of Adam Fox was out for the game. It was now going to be a little more difficult, and keeping the defensemen fresh was going to be a difficult task for the players and coaching staff.
In the second, the Golden Knights would get the lead back. Keegan Kolesar would block a slap pass from Artemi Panarin at the point, forcing the puck back into the neutral zone. Skating down the ice, he's being closed down by the Rangers, but he just lets it fly, and Igor Shesterkin is beaten once again. It's now 2-1 to the Knights in a game that was all New York in the first period.
During a battle along the boards by Nicolas Roy, he was able to pull it out of the pile and allow Ivan Barbashev to fire the puck. Jonathan Marchessault was able to tip it past Igor, and yet again, the Rangers allowed their opponent to score multiple goals after a good period. It killed all momentum, and the team now had an uphill task overcoming a multiple goal deficit against the champs.
A loose puck in the neutral zone would fall to Barbashev. As he entered the zone, his shot was blocked and deflected back to him. He would try again, and his rifle shot would bounce off the end boards and around the cage to the stick of Jonathan Marchessault. Igor had committed to the Barbashev shot, and couldn't get back across the net to stop the attempt from the red hot winger. It was 4-1 early in the third.
The Rangers would get one back with Igor on the bench. A face-off win allowed a slap shot from the point off the blade of Jacob Trouba. Adin Hill couldn't handle the heat of the shot, and Kaapo Kakko was able to deposit the loose puck into the empty cage. 65 seconds left on the clock meant that it was not going to change the outcome, but it looked a little better than it did a moment ago.
Marchessault would complete his hat trick with an empty net goal to end the night 5-2. Another difficult performance for the team in blue. Injury concerns again, struggles for the Blueshirts stars, and a lot more need to be asked of this team. The way that they have been playing since the conclusion of the winning streak early in the season is unforgivable. They will have a chance to fix it tomorrow night.