The Rangers had a serious relapse on Thursday night.
The Blueshirts’ two victories after their season-long losing run seemed like a distant memory as they were defeated 5-1 by the Golden Knights, the defending Stanley Cup champions, who quickly eliminated any sense of competition from the game.
After impressive starts, both of these clubs faltered through the midway point of the season.
But the only team that seemed to be struggling on Thursday night was the Rangers.
Following the game, head coach Peter Laviolette remarked, “That’s a tough one.” “I thought our guys started with the right intentions and played hard the whole night. I hate the score. The game just kind of unraveled in the wrong way for us for [what] seemed like a group that was ready to play.”
The Rangers trailed 4-0 after two periods of this game, their first of four games on a road trip to the west and the first of two games they would play against Vegas in a nine-day period. However, Mika Zibanejad scored on a carried-over power play forty seconds into the third.
The Golden Knights took full advantage of their opportunities to score points while at times putting on a defensive clinic.
That was the situation for Vegas, who were without both goalie Adin Hill, who had primarily supported the team to a Lord Stanley Cup victory seven months earlier, and forward Jack Eichel, who missed his third straight game following knee surgery.
Vegas, like so many of their opponents lately, took advantage of three rush opportunities during the game to find weaknesses in the Rangers’ lineup.
Igor Shesterkin, the goalie for Rangers, was far from the hero his side needed after giving up four goals on 17 shots in 40 minutes.
Chris Kreider, who contributed an assist on the Rangers’ lone goal, said, “Again, some of those, ‘holy s—t’ moments in the back of the net where we got five or six minutes where we were playing really well,” “Hemming them in and working to get chances and then they get one really good one going back the other way. … It’s hard when you’re not really setting your goalie up for success when that happens.”
The Rangers had trouble getting into the offensive zone and were already behind by two goals at the beginning of the second period, which prevented the Golden Knights from having much continuous possession.
Ivan Barbashev of the Golden Knights scored his second goal of the game on a power play after Braden Schneider was punished for interfering at the 16:31 mark.
In a mere 25 seconds later, Keegan Kolesar’s stick diverted Kaedan Korzcak’s lagging shot into goal.
This season, it was the eighth time the Rangers had allowed two goals in a 30-second span.
Despite the visitors having a 30-26 shot advantage, the Rangers did everything but score in the first five minutes of play. However, the remainder of the game belonged to the Golden Knights.
Three of Vegas’ five goals came off the rush, one of which was an empty-net goal by former Ranger Brett Howden.
This has recently become a bad pattern, and the Rangers were thrown into a hole early on as a result.
For the past month and a half, the same behaviours have produced the same outcomes.
Zibanejad stated, “There’s things that we do want to improve and we want to do better,” However, “But I’m happy that we have things to improve. We put ourselves in a spot to keep pushing the second half of the season, but we have things to improve and that’s a good thing for us to just keep going.”