SHARKS TAKE BITE OUT OF RANGERS' STREAK
• GAME PHOTOS
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers were brought back to earth on Monday night at Madison Square Garden, falling to the San Jose Sharks 7-3. The loss was the first this season for the Rangers on home ice, and it snapped the club’s seven-game overall winning streak.
At 7-2-0, the Rangers remain tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place overall in the NHL. The Ranger’s only other loss this season was to Pittsburgh on opening night.
|Rangers forward Ryan Callahan had an assist on the Blueshirts' second goal of the night, but he couldn't get this puck past San Jose's Evgeny Nabokov, who finished with 26 saves on Monday night at MSG.
• MORE PHOTOS
“The first two periods we weren’t as bad as what the score was,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella, whose club trailed 5-2 after 40 minutes of play. “I don’t think we were terrible. But we have some things to work on.”
Following practice on Sunday, Tortorella spoke of his belief that his team needed to play better than it had in its previous two games, victories over the Los Angeles Kings last Thursday and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Of particular concern to Tortorella was the amount of penalties the Rangers were taking, as well as the fact that his club was not controlling the puck and dictating play as often as it had earlier in its winning streak.
Those issues plagued the Blueshirts once again on Monday night, and the talented Sharks exploited them. Despite falling behind by a pair of goals early on, last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners pressed forward, created numerous turnovers, controlled the neutral zone, and took advantage of several Rangers penalties.
“We played a good team and they capitalized on the mistakes we made,” said alternate captain Ryan Callahan
. “I don’t think we were battling hard enough, and unfortunately we made some big mistakes, too. And I think the penalties really hurt us, too.”
After Brad Staubitz and Dany Heatley had wiped out a 2-0 Rangers lead by scoring goals before the first period was over, the Sharks went on to tally three more unanswered goals in the second period to pull away from the Blueshirts.
Former Rangers forward Jed Ortmeyer slipped behind defenseman Michal Rozsival
to bang in the rebound of Benn Ferriero’s left-point shot at 1:19 of the second to give San Jose its first lead of the night, 3-2.
Then at 6:05, with Marian Gaborik
in the penalty box for hooking, the Sharks scored their second power-play goal of the contest to move ahead of their hosts by the score of 4-2. After Steve Valiquette made an initial save, San Jose’s Devin Setoguchi chipped the loose puck into the net for his first of two goals in the game.
Although the Rangers killed off ensuing penalties called against Sean Avery
, the man-disadvantages did not afford the Blueshirts much of a chance to mount a comeback. And then at 17:21 Setoguchi ripped a right wing shot short side on Valiquette for his seventh goal of the season, upping the Sharks’ lead to 5-2.
“I guess if guys don’t stop taking (penalties), they’re going to have to lose some ice-time along the way,” said Tortorella. “That was my biggest frustration tonight. That just wrecks the flow of the game.”
Valiquette finished the second period, but when the third started, Henrik Lundqvist
replaced him between the pipes. Valiquette, whose only other start this season was a 3-0 shutout victory over the Anaheim Ducks, surrendered five goals on 18 shots on Monday night.
“I thought Vally fought it,” said Tortorella. “I was hoping he’d work through it. I don’t think he was sharp.”
Lundqvist was tested early on, as Heatley broke away from all five Rangers on the ice and powered towards the net. Lundqvist made a sensational pad save to rob Heatley, but then lost sight of the puck. San Jose’s Ryan Vesce cleaned up the rebound for his second goal to give the Sharks a 6-2 lead at 3:46 of the third.
After giving up six unanswered goals, the Rangers finally scored another one of their own with 2:48 remaining in the game. Enver Lisin completed a neat passing play from Avery and Matt Gilroy
by blasting a left wing slap shot past Dmitri Nabokov for his second goal of the season.
However, less than a minute later, Patrick Marleau scored for the visitors with 1:55 left to make the final 7-3.
The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period. But before the opening 20 minutes had been played, the Sharks had rallied to pull even at 2-2.
“I thought we had a good start and played real well,” said Callahan, who earned an assist and logged 20:54 worth of ice-time on Monday. “But I don’t think we stuck to the things we wanted to, getting the pucks in deep and holding the puck in the offensive zone, and that resulted in them coming back on us.”
opened the scoring by deflecting Marc Staal
’s left point shot up and over Nabokov’s shoulder at 7:17 to give the Blueshirts a 1-0 edge. The goal was Drury’s second of the season, and his first since opening night in Pittsburgh. It also came six seconds after Avery had recorded the Rangers first shot on goal of the game, when he was robbed on a break-in by Nabokov.
The Rangers increased their lead to 2-0 at 8:34 when Michael Del Zotto
scored on the power play with Dan Boyle in the penalty box for roughing. Del Zotto skated in deep on left wing, corralled the rebound of an Ales Kotalik slap shot, and quickly fired the puck past Nabokov for his fourth goal of the season, and second in as many games.
“We created some things early and jumped out to that 2-0 lead, but then we have to keep battling,” said center Brian Boyle
. “They kept coming, got that power play, and then were coming in waves and waves. And we didn’t stop them.”
The Sharks answered back four minutes later with Staubitz scoring his first goal of the year. Staubitz helped take the puck away from the Blueshirts’ Donald Brashear
in the neutral zone and then took off on a 2-on-1 into the Rangers’ zone. When Wade Redden
took away the pass option, Staubitz instead whistled a left circle shot past Valiquette at 12:49 to cut the Rangers lead to 2-1.
Five minutes later, the Rangers had an excellent chance to regain a two-goal advantage, but an outstanding back check by San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic took Callahan out of the play on a shorthanded break. Vlasic did such a terrific job catching up to Callahan and then riding him to the wing, that the Rangers did not even record a shot on goal off the break.
That missed opportunity caught up to the Rangers a minute later when Heatley tied the score with 1:49 remaining in the first period. Heatley burst through three Rangers in the slot, had his attempted pass deflect back on to his stick, and then sent a backhand shot between Valiquette’s pads for his sixth goal of the season, and third on the power play.
Back at square one, the Sharks had seized the momentum of the game, and would go on to further exploit that in their big second period outburst.
“We had found ways to win and had played well during the games we won, and when we had to we kicked it into gear,” said Boyle. “I didn’t see this one coming. But they’re a good team, and we have to play much better.”
The Rangers will get right back to work on Thursday night in what shapes up as a tough Atlantic Division battle with the New Jersey Devils at The Garden.
|Three star selections