Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Zuccarello Magic Could Not Overcome Hockey God's Working Against Rangers In Loss To Panthers

Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

A night after the Rangers got the bounce on the tying goal in Washington, the bounce would go against them midway through the third period against the Panthers.  The Rangers were clearly the better team for the bulk of the game, but they did not catch many breaks tonight and instead of having another third period comeback win in them they came up one goal short.  It is a tough way to go into the time off, but they will take where they currently rest in the standings and enjoy this next week to get healthier.
The Rangers came out strong early in the first period.  The team did a great job in pinning the Panthers deep in their own zone and creating chances.  The would be rewarded with an early power play that led to a chance for Sean Avery, but a good defensive play by Chris Higgins would spoil it before it got on goal.
The Panthers would get on the board first despite the Rangers dominating the first period when Higgins would feed Olesz who’s shot would deflect off Anisimov and over Lundqvist’s glove.  The period would end with that being the only goal despite the Rangers outshooting the Panthers 12-4.
Early in the second period, a flurry of goals would happen starting with Derek Stepan tying the game 1.  On the play Mats Zuccarello would make an excellent play to push the puck up the wall to a streaking Wojtek Wolski who drove the net hard and had his rebound put home by Stepan.
To answer the Rangers tying goal the Panthers would get two of their own.  The first came just 46 seconds after Stepan tied the game, when Keaton Ellerby, after barely keeping the puck in, would fire the puck on goal and it would get through Lundqvist.  It appeared the Rangers all stopped on the play assuming it was offside. 
The second strike would come only 1:08 after Ellerby’s tally, as Santorelli crashes the crease and knocks it over a downed Lundqvist.  Brian Boyle had Santorelli behind the net on the initial play but he left him to go play the slot and no one picked him up so he had two whacks at rebound chances.
It would take another third period rally if the Rangers were going to salvage points out of this one and for half the period it certainly seemed they were on their way to doing just that.  In just a shade over three minutes the Rangers had erased the two goal deficit and were back to even.  Brandon Prust would deflect Michael Sauer’s shot home to cut the deficit to one. 
The Rangers would tie it 1:51 later when Brian Boyle would stuff home the rebound of a Marian Gaborik backhand attempt on the power play.  With the goal, Boyle now leads the Rangers with 18 goals on the season. 
In the end it was not meant to be tonight as Mike Weaver would score a fluke goal that deflected off Artem Anisimov’s back, popped up in the air and landed behind Lundqvist, trickling into the net.
Following the game the Rangers announced that Michael Del Zotto, Evgeny Grachev, Chad Kolarik, Brodie Dupont and Kris Newbury were being sent back to the Connecticut Whale (AHL).  Presumably a couple of them will come back next week, but I would not expect them all to return with the expectation of returns for Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.
The team also announced that both Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal have been activated from injured reserve.
  • Lundqvist certainly was not at his best tonight, but the Bronx cheer he got during the second period was an absolute joke and they should all be ashamed of themselves.  Yes, buying a ticket gives you the right to act like an idiot, but having a ticket, even season tickets does not make you a fan of this team.
  • Mats Zuccarello was phenomenal tonight with his three assists and I repeat my call that the NHL should select him to replace Jordan Eberle in the SuperSkills competition during All-Star weekend.
  • Michael Del Zotto was good tonight, especially the third period.