Already playing without two of their top six defensemen Saturday, the Rangers were dealt a double dose of even worse luck when Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein were both injured in the first period of a 1-0 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Evander Kane snapped a 1-1 tie in the shootout by scoring in the fourth round, denying the Rangers a second point in the standings.
Klein was the first to be hurt when he suffered a foot contusion while blocking a shot early in the first period. Then with just under 12 minutes gone by in the opening period McDonagh separated his left shoulder after being crunched into the boards behind the Rangers net on a punishing check delivered by Winnipeg's Evander Kane. It was the same shoulder McDonagh injured late last season on a hit delivered by Vancouver's Alex Burrows. Neither player returned to the game on Saturday, and both will be evaluated further by team doctors on Sunday.
New York was already without Dan Boyle--who remains sidelined with a broken hand--and John Moore--who was serving the first of a five-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Minnesota's Erik Haula on Tuesday night.
Down to four defensemen--only two of which began the season in the top six--the Rangers still carried the play to the Jets, outshooting Winnipeg 10-6 in the first period, 16-8 in the second, aNd 10-8 in the third, though the game remained scoreless through 60 minutes of play.
Marc Staal stepped forward and excelled at both ends of the ice, playing rock solid in his own end while aggressively forcing the action in the offensive zone, as well. Dan Girardi stepped up with the most ice-time and raised his level of play, too.
Matt Hunwick--playing in his 300th NHL game--and Mike Kostka--in the lineup for only the second time this season, taking the place of the suspended Moore--were both steady and able to handle extended minutes after Klein and McDonagh went down. Klein played two shifts on Saturday for a total of 1:14 and McDonagh logged 6:42 over just five shifts,
The forwards did their part, winning puck battles, working extremely effectively down low in the Jets' zone, and sustaining pressure on the visitors for extended periods. And when Staal took a tripping minor 5:25 into the third period, leaving New York with only three defensemen with which to defend against a Jets power play in a 0-0 game, forward Tanner Glass moved back and paired with Kostka.
During overtime Rangers forwards Chris Kreider and Martin St. Louis both had glorious chances to win the game for New York, but Kreider was denied from left wing by Pavelec and St. Louis was stuffed on a breakaway.
Henrik Lundqvist was solid between the pipes for the Rangers, making his eighth consecutive start. He controlled his rebounds, was positionally sound, and was especially sharp with his glove hand--which was tested often by the Jets.