Rangers can't sustain momentum, grounded by Jets
by Michael Rappaport/Correspondent
The opportunities were there. The Rangers just weren’t able to seize them.
The Rangers dropped their fourth straight contest on Tuesday night, losing to the Winnipeg Jets, 4-3, at Madison Square Garden.
Sure, the effort was there. Yes, the Blueshirts were without Arron Asham, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, as well as Rick Nash for the fourth straight game.
But, the Rangers weren’t able to grab the momentum of the game and hold it for stretches during the contest.
After a scoreless – and seemingly lifeless – first period, Ryan Callahan buoyed the Rangers five minutes into the middle frame. After breaking his stick, Callahan blocked two shots and delivered two hits, energizing the MSG crowd.
“I was just trying to block shots,” the Rangers captain said. “It had nothing to do with trying to spark a team. It’s just the way we have to play and what you have to do to get wins.”
However, less than a minute after the shift, ex-Ranger Olli Jokinen put Winnipeg on the board first. Sixty-seven seconds later, Evander Kane extended the Jets’ lead to two.
Callahan cut the Blueshirts’ deficit to one near the period’s midway point. Once again, the Rangers derailed their own momentum when Brian Boyle was called for kneeing 14 seconds after Callahan’s tally.
Although the Rangers killed the penalty off, the Jets controlled the play after the penalty expired, and ultimately regained the two-goal lead before the period ended.
In the third period, Taylor Pyatt scored his fourth goal of the year to make the score 3-2. But just 20 seconds later, Kane scored his second goal of the game on a shot that Henrik Lundqvist would like another chance to stop.
“I’ve gone over it a couple of times and I’ve tried to find out a reason for why, but it doesn’t matter,” Lundqvist said. “I need to stop it.”
Despite the four-game losing streak, there are signs pointing up for the Rangers. Nash was on the ice during the morning skate on Tuesday, and it’s possible No. 61’s return will be sooner rather than later.
Also – after being outshot 26-19 through two periods – the Blueshirts outshot the Jets 14-6 in the final frame and controlled most of the action.
Head coach John Tortorella has said repeatedly that it’s important to grab momentum back as soon as possible after it’s lost, and hold on to it as long as possible once it’s had.
The Blueshirts need to get that momentum back fast – before all of the opportunities are gone.
GAME NOTES: Steve Eminger had an assist and played 20:33 in his first NHL game since Feb. 7. Darroll Powe returned to the lineup after missing three games with a concussion. Pyatt’s goal was his first point since registering two assists against the Lightning on Feb. 2. Anton Stralman recorded a goal and an assist. The loss was the Rangers’ first against a team in the Southeast Division this season. Chris Kreider played 4:33 and didn’t see the ice in the third period.