Toronto's Broadway Takeover: Rangers Face Unexpected Setback at MSG

Explore the unexpected twists as the New York Rangers face a Broadway bummer against the Toronto Maple Leafs, revealing challenges beyond the 7-3 score.
Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Explore the unexpected twists as the New York Rangers face a Broadway bummer against the Toronto Maple Leafs, revealing challenges beyond the 7-3 score.

The Rangers have been the comeback kings this season, leading the NHL with nine.
Yet even the best stumble sometimes. In Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden, the Blueshirts found themselves in too big of a hole to dig out of. They tried to rally from a 4-1 first-period deficit with a two-goal second, but the steam ran out by the third. It's three losses in four games for a team facing adversity after a burgeoning 18-4-1 start to the season.

Maple Mayhem leads to Blueshirts Seeing Red:

In the first period, it looked like the Rangers were the team who played on Monday night, not the Maple Leafs. Yes, Toronto was on Long Island and didn't have to travel following their 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders. But they still played last night while the Blueshirts were off.
The Leafs, fueled by their dads' presence on their "Dads trip," came out strong. A penalty on Blake Wheeler gave Toronto an extra attacker, leading to Auston Matthews scoring 3:52 into the contest, making him the first NHL player to hit 20 goals this season. The mini two-on-one saw William Nylander blow by Erik Gustafsson and Mathews by captain Jacob Trouba.

Only 65 seconds later, a faceoff win and a Connor Timms point shot extended Toronto's lead to 2-0, a goal Igor Shesterkin likely wants back. Wheeler redeemed himself with a goal off a Leafs player, but Toronto responded swiftly, exploiting Shesterkin's rebound struggles and New York's defensive lapses. After Shetsring couldn't handle a Tyler Bertuzzi shot, John Tavares's chance was stopped, but the rebound came out to Calie Jarnkork, who was stunningly left wide open in the slot to make it 3-1. Toronto poured it on, as 21 seconds later, a Gustafson turnover saw Mathews find Mitch Marner to make it 4-1.

The period ended with the Rangers booed off the ice and a 3-11 shot disadvantage. Even Sportsnet's Gord Murphy remarked, "If the Leafs didn't have a goalie in the first period, it still would've been 4-1."

Don't call it a comeback, but rather a setback:

The rough first period had fans wondering if Shesterkin would get swapped out for Jonathan Quick, but no dice. "I think that some of it was on us, and some it was some nice goals," he said. "I thought also through the course of the game he made some big saves... So, no, I didn't think about it."
Head Coach Peter Laviolette threw the responsibility back on the players to fix the mess. They cleaned up their act, played tight, and tried to channel that Sunday magic from their 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings. The fourth line had some golden chances, but Martin Jones shut the door on Nick Bonino and Tyler Pitlick's breakaways.

However, the pressure paid off with a power play, and Artemi Panarin hooked up Mika Zibanejad for a beauty, making it 4-2. It was Panarin's 700th career assist . Then a Shestekrin save saw Trouba find Wheeler, who scored his second of the night Jones to make it 4-3.Then, Adam Fox, who had his best game as a Blueshirt since coming off LTIR, broke up a Leafs odd man rush as the second period expired. MSG came alive! The Rangers were riding high into the third, hoping to become the fifth team in the NHL season to rally from a 4-1 deficit.

However, a questionable penalty foiled their plans. Gustafsson got called for interference on what looked like a clean play. Toronto capitalizes, and Mitch Marner tipped in Morgan Reilly's shot, making it 5-3. Mathews sealed the deal with 2:49 left for his fourth point, and David Kampf hit the empty net to make it 7-3.

Despite the Rangers' reputation as the top team in the league at faceoffs with an impressive 55.6%, they were surprisingly beaten in this category by the Leafs. Even Zibanejad, usually strong in the faceoff circle, struggled, going 1-8 on the evening. The Leafs won 29 out of 55 draws (52.7%), showcasing an unexpected turn of events for the Blueshirts.
The Leafs (15-6-5), now 7-1-3 in their last 11, took a Broadway stroll in all facets of the game, including in transition, which has become a glaring hole in the Rangers' defense.

Shesterkin had a rough night, facing 30 shots and saving 24. "I don't know what to say to you, sorry," he said about his game. Neither do the Rangers (19-7-1) about their recent play.