Rangers find net, but Blues find points in St. Louis
|Rangers backup goaltender Chad Johnson, making his second NHL start, stops St. Louis' T.J. Oshie on Saturday night. Johnson finished with 21 saves.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
They ended their scoreless streak on Saturday night, but the Rangers could not bring a halt to their winless streak.
The St. Louis Blue scored three times in the third period to skate to a 4-1 victory over the Rangers at the Scottrade Center, dropping the Blueshirts to 0-2-1 in their last three matches.
The Rangers entered the third period seeking a way to come away with a road victory, tied on the scoreboard 1-1. However just 45 seconds into the third, St. Louis scored the huge go-ahead goal. And nearly eight minutes later, the Blues scored again to mount a fairly insurmountable two-goal advantage.
Defenseman Roman Polak fired a long right-wing slap shot that seemed to be heading wide of the Rangers’ net early in the third period. Unfortunately for the visitors, Polak’s shot hit Rangers’ defenseman Dan Girardi
, who was tangling with a Blues player in front of the cage, and past goaltender Chad Johnson
for a 2-1 St. Louis lead at the 45-second mark.
At 8:31 of the third, Alex Steen rushed around the Rangers’ net with the puck, came out on the left-wing side and whipped a backhand shot off Johnson’s blocker and over the goal line for his 10th goal of the season.
Trailing by a pair, the Rangers tried to mount a comeback, with Enver Lisin leading the charge. Moments after Steen’s goal, Lisin burst into the Blues’ zone and seemed headed to a partial breakaway until he was tripped from behind, although no penalty was called. Four minutes later Lisin’s wicked backhand shot from the slot hit the crossbar behind Blues’ goalie Chris Mason. And seconds after that Lisin drew a power play for the Rangers when he was tripped by Mike Weaver.
Despite Lisin’s great efforts, the Rangers could not take advantage of their power play, and could not mount that hoped-for comeback against the Blues.
David Backes’ empty-net goal in the waning seconds finished off the Rangers.
The Rangers’ fourth line, strong all night, teamed up to get the visitors on the scoreboard in the second period, simultaneously tying the game and snapping a long scoring drought for the team.
Aaron Voros, a healthy scratch in the previous six games -- and in 18 of the last 20 -- helped cause a turnover deep in the Blues’ end that led directly to the Rangers’ goal. Voros hammered Blues defenseman Eric Brewer behind St. Louis’ net, and the puck bounced off Brewer’s stick. Brian Boyle
alertly grabbed the free puck, skated out front, and sneaked a backhand shot past Mason at 7:37 of the second.
Boyle’s fourth goal of the season evened the score at 1-1, and was the first Rangers’ goal in exactly 172 minutes of game action. Erik Christensen
had been the last Rangers player to score, doing so exactly a week ago early in the third period of a 3-1 win in Boston.
That game was followed by Tuesday’s 1-0 shootout defeat at the hands of the Devils and Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Toss in more than a full period without a goal again on Saturday, and it had been almost the equivalent of three full games since the Rangers had lit the lamp.
The Rangers actually had a strong start in Saturday evening’s contest. Less than a minute into the contest, both Brandon Dubinsky
and Ryan Callahan
had created good scoring chances by driving hard to the net, though Mason foiled both attempts. Where the Rangers lost some of their edge, however, was by taking three consecutive penalties in the first period.
Those penalties helped the Blues grab momentum, and also led directly to the first goal of the night. With Wade Redden
sitting in the penalty box, David Perron wristed the puck into a wide-open net off a perfect Keith Tkachuk pass from the slot that faked Johnson well out of position at 14:01 of the opening period.
To Johnson’s credit he remained poised and seemingly unaffected by the score. Moving forward he was a strong presence in the Rangers’ net, helping his team regain its footing, which it did by playing a much stronger second period.
Several strong shifts on the forecheck, with Dubinsky, Callahan, Chris Drury
, and Lisin, in particular, standing out, put the Rangers back on the right track in the middle stanza. Boyle’s goal followed, as did excellent scoring chances later in the period by Marian Gaborik
, Artem Anisimov
, and Lisin.
Although limited to only 12 shots on goal over the first two periods of play, the Rangers reached the intermission tied 1-1, hopeful of a strong third period and two points in the standings. It took only 45 seconds worth of play in that final period to smash the hopes of the Rangers.
The Rangers are right back at it Sunday night at Madison Square Garden when they host the Montreal Canadiens, looking to get back to winning.
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