After a miserable four game road trip, the New York Rangers took on the Red Wings at home on Tuesday night. The Rangers started Henrik Lundqvist in net, while Jimmy Howard looked to improve on his impressive MSG resume for Detroit.
The first chance of the game fell to Dylan Larkin four minutes in. After beating Marc Staal, he was alone in front of net and crossed the crease before turning around and shooting wide from the tough angle. Thirty seconds later Ryan Strome had a great chance when a loose puck in front found his stick, with Howard lying on his back, but he missed the net. Both teams then had power plays which resulted in four shots each. On the Rangers power play there were two moments of mayhem in front of net that could have potted a goal, but Howard was up to the test. Then, with 2:44 left, Frans Nielsen beat an out of position John Gilmour, leading to a two on one. Nielsen drove to the net hard and beat Lundqvist on the near post. Pavel Buchnevich almost equalized a minute later when Mika Zibanejad found him in between the dots via a no look backhand pass, but Buchnevich’s shot was blocked in front.
After a too many men on the ice call in the first minute the Rangers went on the power play, but wasted the opportunity with zero shots on net. Shortly after, with 15:30 left in the period, Jacob De La Rose came streaking down the right side in a two on one and passed to Andreas Athanasiou who doubled the Red Wings’ lead. After this, the Rangers picked up play and dominated the period. Jimmy Vesey and Lias Andersson both had one on one opportunities in a rush but were blanked by Howard. Filip Chytil flashed incredible skill in on a one on two and undressed a defender before getting robbed by Howard’s glove. With three minutes left Buchnevich spoiled another great chance. Mika Zibanejad came down in a two on one with Buch. Zibanejad’s pass was behind Buchnevich, forcing him to delay his shot and resulted in another block. Despite 31 shots on goal the Rangers found themselves down two heading into the third.
After a couple of high paced periods the third period slowed to a crawl. This was mostly due to the Red Wings conservative forecheck which saw four defenders on the blue line. The action would heat up late though, as after a penalty with six minutes remaining the Rangers power play got to work. After missing two shots in short succession, Strome scored on a rebound from a Kevin Shattenkirk shot from the point to narrow the lead to one. Shattenkirk had just fed Strome with a beautiful backdoor pass but he had missed the deflection. With a minute left, Buchnevich had a great opportunity with a wide open shot in the slot, but it was again deflected off target. Immediately after, Athanasiou picked up the loose puck and finished in into the Rangers open net. When all hope was lost Brendan Smith scored his third goal of the season off of a rebound from Neal Pionk, but this goal came with ten seconds left and was too late.
Despite the close loss the Rangers played immensely better than they did on their road trip. What was even more encouraging was that youngsters Chytil and Andersson were all over the ice tonight, getting a lot of ice time and creating chances. The Rangers will look to keep developing and break the drought on Saturday in Toronto.