“The movie wasn’t so hot. It didn’t have much of a plot. We fell asleep, our goose is cooked. Our reputation is shot. Wake up, little Susie.” — Everly Brothers
These lyrics should be sung to the Rangers players.
The first two periods saw the Blueshirts sleepwalking against the Maple Leafs. And at the end of 40 minutes of play it was 3-1 Toronto.
After the team’s loss to New Jersey the players said they were angry with themselves for how they played. But that fire was missing throughout much of tonight’s game against the Leafs.
Finally, in the third period, the 7th Avenue Skaters woke up and played desperate.
Part of that was Head Coach Alain Vigneault juggling his lines and pairings to find a winning combination.
Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, Boo Nieves and Paul Carey all rode the pine for long stretches of the third period.
Eventually J.T. Miller made Buchnevich and Chris Kreider’s hard work pay-off when he sniped an off-angle shot past Frederik Andersen; cutting the Leafs’ lead to 3-2.
Mere moments later Michael Grabner skillfully weaved through the Toronto skaters and fired the puck past Andersen and into the Leafs’ net; seemingly tying the game.
Toronto’s bench challenged the play, saying the Rangers were offsides. Video review said the Leafs were correct as Kevin Hayes — who was nowhere near the play — was indeed offsides.
Grabner’s goal was taken off the board and the Blueshirts were back to chasing a goal.
Unfortunately that was as far as they got; losing 3-2.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
HIS MAJESTY: The Rangers’ skaters should chip in and buy Henrik Lundqvist a crown, glittering robe and majestic scepter for Christmas. Lundqvist has made 30-plus saves in his last five games and seven times in his last nine. Oh, and he stopped all 14 shots he faced in the third period. Without Lundqvist the Blueshirts wouldn’t be as high in the standings as they are.
NOT SO SPECIAL “SPECIAL TEAMS”: The penalty-kill allowed another power-play goal. And the power-play couldn’t get anything going — even when they had a five-on-three advantage. That failure to score on the five-on-three gave the Leafs a spark and ultimately led to Toronto’s first goal.
THIRD PERIOD GOALS: Miller’s third period marker was the team’s 47th goal of the season in the final frame;tying for the highest mark in the NHL.
The Rangers face Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals Wednesday (Dec. 27) at MSG. Game time is 8p.m. ET and the broadcast is on NBCSN.
The Leafs welcomed back their young superstar center Auston Matthews, who missed six games with a concussion.
The Rangers, they looked like the Christmas break couldn’t come fast enough.
Through two periods the Blueshirts were MIA — except for Lundqvist.
The third period was the only time when the 7th Avenue Skaters actually showed up to play. Unfortunately hockey games are 60 minutes not 20 minutes. And that’s what ultimately doomed the Rangers.