After riding the high of their Winter Classic win, the Rangers on Wednesday night came crashing back down to Earth.
Vastly outplayed at even strength, the Blueshirts suffered through a letdown two days after their emotional win at Citi Field, falling to the Blackhawks, 5-2.
Patrick Sharp ripped a shot into the top-right corner off the rush for Chicago’s go-ahead goal 2:24 into the third period before the Blackhawks added two empty-netters.
Mika Zibanejad’s power-play goal during a 5-on-3 brought the Rangers level 2-2 at 11:32 of the second period, rifling home Pavel Buchnevich’s dot-to-dot pass.
The Blueshirts had a legitimate gripe regarding the goal which put them behind less than three minutes earlier. After Henrik Lundqvist made a save on Nick Schmaltz’s shot up close, Ryan Hartman cross-checked Marc Staal, who then tumbled into the net and took the puck across the goal line with him right as he knocked the net off its moorings. No penalty was called, and video review confirmed the officials’ call of a good goal.
The Rangers were vastly outplayed at even strength.
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Not long after Zibanejad’s goal, in another sign of dynamite officiating, J.T. Miller was assessed a delayed high-sticking penalty – but the officials let the Rangers continue to play with the puck and even get a shot on goal.
All told, the Rangers were incredibly fortunate to be tied heading into the third, having been outshot 26-14 over the first two periods and out-attempted 52-20 during five-on-five play. They didn’t do nearly enough to test Chicago’s 32-year-old rookie goaltender Jeff Glass, who was making just his third career NHL appearance Wednesday.
Nick Holden’s shot from the point went in with Jesper Fast screening in front at 18:09 of the first to tie it up at 1.
Vinnie Hinostroza drew first blood exactly two minutes prior. A long shot off the end boards went right to Jonathan Toews, who fed Hinostroza in front with a backhanded, between-the-legs pass. Kevin Shattenkirk, who set up Miller’s overtime winner Monday in the Winter Classic but a day earlier was dubbed a “work in progress” by Alain Vigneault, iced the puck 10 seconds before Hinostroza’s goal.
(Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
“You look at their lineup and you look at some of the names that are there, you think high-caliber, pressure players, Stanley Cup winners, Olympic winners,” Alain Vigneault said before the game of the Blackhawks. “Team is different obviously. They’ve changed some pieces, but they still have those high-end players that can play the big games and make the big plays.”
The Rangers now have to beat the impending storm out to the desert for a two-game weekend trip in Arizona and Vegas with the task of improving upon their 6-7-2 road record – which includes Monday’s win in Flushing.
“We’re a good road team,” Vigneault said. “For whatever reason this year the schedule had us playing more home games in the first half, but I’m very confident in this group’s ability to play the right way on the road.”