Momentum is the game you bring today, not the last split-second miracle you accomplished yesterday.
And that’s a lesson learned by the Rangers, whose low-energy effort kind of sloppy in the park Sunday in losing Montreal 2-1-for-27 overall after a pair of thrilling wins on Broadway earlier. At home vs. Minnesota and Dallas.
“We didn’t play at our level tonight. We played a bad game,” said Artemy Panarin, who scored the Blues’ only goal of the 1-1 tie at 16:03 of the second half with a delayed penalty. “We have to recover mentally and be ready for that. [Monday] in Columbus.”
The blue jerseys were out of sync. They’ve spent a lot of time on the outside, for the most part unable to break through a rather stubborn performance on the other side. Sam Montembolt was squeaky clean against Montreal but rarely had to take second chances while facing a misguided 40-shot group, seven from the stick of Panarine.
“We haven’t gotten into the areas where you score,” said Philip Shetel, who was as regular as most of his teammates in blah competition. “There are not many opportunities. Lots of outsiders.”
There was a lot of outsiders on one side and given a lot of glorious opportunities on the other. Igor Shesterkin was brilliant in this match and stood head and shoulders over his team mates while making half a dozen great saves that kept Al Belushi in the game.
“Igor was great but we need his help,” Chitel said. “We can’t leave him with these two people apart.”
The Canadiens scored their first goal when Kirby Dash ended a powerhouse three-on-two game with an inside right hash mark at 4:54 of the second period after disallowing Jacob Trueba on a two-on-one. They grabbed the winner at 8:56 of the third period when the exceptional Cole Cofield took the 26th overall by turning Nick Suzuki’s center feed while both Trueba and partner Candry Miller chased behind the grid and Jimmy Vesey couldn’t get there in Good time.
This was a collapse on countless other errors the Blueshirts routinely made despite holding a 67-45 advantage on five out of five attempts, according to the natural stats trick.
“We were kind of flat, a little sleepy,” said head coach Gerard Gallant, who refused to use the team’s flu as an excuse for the disappointing performance. “The energy level doesn’t sound great, but I’m not going to yell and shout at them.”
Alexis Lavernière was around the net and had one first-class chance in the first period of his second match with Mika Zibanejad and Kabu Kaku in the absence of Chris Kreider. But Montembolt denied the number 13 – the official paper does not credit the winger with a shot – after a rebound from a shot off the post.
The rest of the game featured false starts and too many turnovers in his end, though Gallant made it onto the ice when Coach Shesterkin pulled an extra tackle with 1:56 left in the game.
The coach made some adjustments down the stretch, notably moving Vitaly Kravtsov from Panarin Troshek’s unit and off the bench in the final 9:00 while Vissi took the lead.
This was a game of diminishing returns for Kravtsov, who was completely ineffective in what was his seventh straight game on this streak and spent most of that game on the perimeter.
Unless the Rangers come to the conclusion that Lafreniere cannot play right wing, it is possible that the No. 13 could take Kravtsov’s place with Troschek and Panaryn once Kreider is out of the game. The Panarin-Trocheck-Lafreniere unit was intact for 12 games in the first month of the season, compiling a rating of 59.06 Corsi, 55.06 shot share, and 50.48 xGF while scoring with seven goals for and 10 against.
The power play failed both of her chances to extend the oh-fer to 11 over the last four games, getting three shots in this one with the man advantage. Units opposing the penalty kill continue to press hard on the setup and tend towards taking out Zibanejad’s lone counter from the left circle. The underperforming power play ranks smack-dab in the middle of the league, #16, at 22.1 percent. That’s not good enough for this remote group. If implementation does not improve, personnel changes should be considered and initiated.
Rangers are 13-3-2 in their last 18 games. He has seven tiebreakers. Sunday, miracles run out and come back. Sunday, they didn’t earn either.