For the second time in two nights the Rangers found themselves in a tight 1-0 contest Sunday when they hosted the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden. However unlike Saturday's uplifting victory in Montreal, the Rangers were on the wrong end of the score Sunday, as Ben Scrivens and the Kings shut them out 1-0.
Scrivens, starting in the place of the injured Jonathan Quick, posted his league-leading third shutout in eight appearances this season for LA. He stopped all 37 shots he faced---including 15 in the third period---as the Rangers were blanked for the fourth time this season.
Dominic Moore appeared to have tied the game with 2:41 remaining in regulation, but his goal was disallowed after video review apparently because he kicked the puck into the net during a wild scramble in the crease. Moore had two other outstanding chances he created by his own gritty extra effort earlier on the same shift, but he and his teammates came away empty.
The Rangers went 0-for-5 on the power play Sunday, including a failed opportunity late in the third period. Henrik Lundqvist, who watched rookie Cam Talbot backstop Saturday's 1-0 shutout win in Montreal, turned aside 29 shots in a losing effort for New York.
The two teams both played tight defensive games and took very few chances in the offensive end most of the night, which made perfect sense what with the Rangers playing the second game of a back-to-back this weekend and the Kings closing out a four-game road trip with their third game in four nights. In addition the Rangers team plane did not land until 3:00 AM Sunday because of fog issues while returning from Montreal.
Stil, the Blueshirts played with plenty of jump in the scoreless opening period, outshooting the Kings 11-6 and displaying a physical edge to their game, as well. Clean, hard hits thrown by Chris Kreider, Derek Dorsett, and Brian Boyle in the first period resulted in opposing players plopped on their backsides, though the second period saw their physical game ebb some, even despite Anton Stralman's textbook hipcheck late in the period which sent Kings captain Dustin Brown tumbling head over foot to the ice.
If the Rangers had the better of the play in the opening 20 minutes, it was Los Angeles that had the upper hand in the middle stanza. Not only did they grab a 1-0 lead and outshoot the Rangers 13-11 in the second period, but the Kings had a fairly distinct territorial edge, even despite taking three straight penalties midway through the period.
It was a terribly frustrating sequence for the Rangers not to be able to take advantage when the Kings started their march to the penalty box at 9:44, and followed with minors at 11:10 and 12:54. Twice the Rangers had brief 5-on-3 power plays in that sequence---once for 34 seconds and the other time for 17 seconds---but the league leaders in 5-on-3 scores this season could not convert either time. The Rangers managed six shots with all of that consecutive power play time, but Scrivens stopped them all, and the Blueshirts came away still chasing a goal against one of the league's top teams.
An unfortunate bounce off Stralman's skate early in the second period helped account for the game's lone goal. LA's Tyler Toffoli fired a right wing shot towards the Rangers net and the puck hit Stralman on the way to Lundqvist, changed direction, and ended up in the back of the cage at 1:23 of the second period. It was not only unfortnate for the home team, but an ominous sign, too, since the Rangers entered play Sunday having posted a 1-8-0 record this season when their opponent scored the first goal of the game.
One of the Rangers' best scoring chances in the game came while shorthanded in the second period off a pretty spin-o-rama move by Dom Moore, though Scrivens made a good pad save on the shot. Later during the same penalty kill, Mats Zuccarello surprisingly passed up a shot off a 3-on-1 rush and his pass sailed out of the zone, thwarting his own prime chance to tie the game.
The Rangers received a brief scare on the first shift of the second period when Dorsett was drilled in the chest by a Ryan McDonagh slap shot as Dorsett was setting a screen in front of Scrivens. Dorsett dropped his stick, clutched his chest, and quickly headed to the bench, but returned to action shortly thereafter without missing a shift.
Back to .500 on the season at 10-10-0, the Rangers next host the Boston Bruins at The Garden Tuesday night before heading out on a five-game road trip that start Thursday in Dallas.