In a wholly frustrating performance tonight, The Blueshirts failed to hold a two goal lead twice and were beat by a Montreal squad that wanted it more than they did. A third straight loss, after reeling off seven straight wins, has to have coach Tortorella seething and if he isn’t then I don’t know what game he was watching tonight.
The Canadiens jumped out to an early lead but the Rangers roared back with 3 goals including a beautiful rebound by Artem Anisimov to build a 3-1 lead at the end of one period. Once again, as they have done throughout the season, the Rangers came out flat in the second period and the Canadiens cut the lead to one on a goal by Matt D’Agostini. The highlight of the game for New York came 3 minutes later as Marian Gaborik took a pass from Enver Lisin and broke in untouched on Jaroslav Halak sliding the puck between his pads on the deke. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there as the Canadiens would get a power play goal off a blast from Marc Andre Bergeron (why didn’t we sign this guy again?) and would tie the game when Christopher Higgins (who has been nothing short of horrible this season) was late picking up Mike Cammalleri, who would score his second goal of the game to knot it at 4-4. Higgins would earn a seat on the bench (along with Brandon Dubinsky, who had his own costly gaffe) for the remainder of regulation and overtime. The third period was full of scoring chances on both ends but no one could solve Halak or Lundqvist.
The Rangers (minus two of their top 6 forwards) started OT with some strong play in the offensive zone but couldn’t get the game winner and when Mike Cammalleri skated all the way from his own blue line into the offensive zone (without being touched by any Ranger player) and ripped a laser over a down too early Lundqvist the game was over. Marian Gaborik knew that he didn’t skate and backcheck hard enough (coasting and just reaching with his stick the whole time) and you could see it on his face.
All night the Rangers gave the Canadiens too much room in the neutral zone and did not play an energetic game. Brandon Dubinsky, Christopher Higgins and Marian Gaborik (despite his highlight reel goal) had disappointing nights as they seemed to become complacent with the two goal leads and stopped skating hard.
John Tortorella has said after both previous losses that the team played well and just got bad breaks. It’s time for Tortorella to stand up and call this performance what it was, horrible. The Rangers may have fixed their scoring woes but their lack of discipline once they get a lead is alarming and if Torts doesn’t see this (or isn’t willing to admit it) then that is a huge problem going forward.
Thumbs Up- Tough to find bright spots in this performance but Artem Anisimov and Michael Del Zotto both had strong games and impressed in the opportunities they recieved. Brian Boyle stood up for his teammates and played with an edge.
Thumbs Down- Christopher Higgins needs to get out of his own head before this season passes him by and he’s looking for a new team come summer. Brandon Dubinsky had a terrible performance and has been invisible during the three game skid. Henrik Lundqvist had an inconsistent game and went down way too early (like in last year’s first round collapse vs. Sergei Fedorov) on the game winner. Sean Avery played hard but hasn’t been a factor and might be too worried about pleasing Torts and not worried enough about being a pest and playing with an edge.
3 Stars- 3- Wade Redden- Just an all around solid game by the much maligned defenseman.
2- Artem Anisimov- Anisimov took his demotion to the fourth line well and played a strong game, scoring one goal and almost converting on another late in the third period.
1- Matt Gilroy- The rookie blueliner who has gotten less buzz than his fellow rookie Del Zotto since the season began had a great first period (including a huge blast to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead) and an overall solid showing. He still needs to work on stepping up at the top of the circles and stopping a rush (he was on the ice for the game winner) but he is improving with each game and was a factor offensively throughout.
The Rangers hope to stop the bleeding on Monday night at MSG as the surprising Coyotes visit at 7 PM.