Canucks overwhelm ineffective Rangers 6-3

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

In a contest played between two of the top teams in the NHL, New York Rangers fell flat in a 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

“Too much against,” captain Jacob Trouba said. “Just the quality of opportunities we gave up is not a recipe for us to be successful.”

Considering these two clubs went to overtime the last time they met on Oct. 28, this game was never really in question after the Rangers opened a 1-0 lead but trailed after the first and second periods. Despite what the scoreboard said, many New York skaters had multi-point games, including Vincent Trocheck (two goals), Artemi Panarin (goal and assist), and Alexis Lafreniere (two helpers).

Unfortunately, the Blueshirts were outdueled by another goalie; this time, Thatcher Demko turned away 39 shots, his fourth-highest total of the 2023-24 season. Meanwhile, Igor Shesterkin had a subpar game, making just 20 saves to finish the evening with a .800 save percentage.

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Vancouver Canucks 6 vs New York Rangers 3

After falling behind 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, the Rangers hopped on the visiting Canucks early in this game, picking up a 1-0 lead when Trocheck continued his quest to be voted into the upcoming NHL All-Star Game.

Once Nils Aman was off for a tripping call at 17:44, New York set up their dangerous powerplay and capitalized on a sprawling Demko playing without his stick. Naturally, the top guys connected on the opening goal when Trocheck finished a play he started when collecting a pass from Panarin.

However, the home crowd went quiet about a minute later when former Ranger J.T. Miller beat Shesterkin at 15:29 with a shot from the slot, thanks to a feed from Elias Pettersson from behind the net. Then, with the score tied, Vancouver struck again when Nils Hoglander sniped one past Shesterkin from a cross-ice assist from Aman.

Just when it appeared the Rangers escaped the opening period down by a goal, Brock Boeser picked up his second point in 6:15 minutes of ice time in the first when he snaked his way past K’Andre Miller, Trocheck, and Jacob Trouba to bury his 25th goal of the year with just 16 seconds left.

Ultimately, all three goals in the period were scored by undefended players, left open just enough to get their quick releases and beating Shesterkin, who finished the first period with a .571 save percentage, stopping just four shots. Overall, the Rangers led in shots 12-7 and won 55% of the faceoffs, but sloppy play put them down by two heading into the second period.

During the second period, the Rangers kept buzzing, forcing Demko to make key saves, while Shesterkin remained untested primarily for the first half. Despite continuously turning the puck over, a significant Canucks turnover on the blueline created by Lafreniere led to New York cutting the deficit down to 3-2.

After intercepting a pass between defenders, Lafreniere skated into the offensive zone and circled back to feed a streaking Panarin. He took the puck and glided into the circle to fire a laser shot past Themko for his 26th goal at 8:19.

Immediately preceding the Rangers’ latest goal, both teams exchanged glorious scoring chances, with both goalies standing tall in their crease. Still, the momentum swung back to Vancouver’s side with two late goals.

At 15:33, Pettersson picked up his second point of the contest when he collected his own rebound off Shesterkin’s pads and, with slick hands, buried his rebound with Trocheck draped all over him. Unfortunately, the goal will be the night’s highlight, but the misery wasn’t over yet.

About a minute later, fellow Swede Nils Hoglander netted his 12th of the season when he snuck the puck between Shesterkin’s legs after deking around Adam Fox with a between-the-legs move off a pass from Puis Suter at 16:47.

When the buzzer ended the middle period, the Rangers trailed 5-2 but were ahead in shots 27-20, faceoffs 57-43%, and giveaways 11-0, with Blake Wheeler leading all skaters with three.

Even though New York faced a tough challenge to begin the third period, facing a team 23-0-0 when leading after two, they kept pressing, with Trocheck netting his second goal on a beautiful breakout feed from Lafreinere at 3:36. While skating out of the zone from behind his net, the former first overall pick dished over Trocheck who flew down the boards and beat Demko on his blocker side to make it a 5-3 game.

Despite a powerplay opportunity at 9:18, the Rangers’ best chance to score again came off the stick of Chris Kreider, who fired a shot that went off Demko’s glove and bounced off the crossbar. Later in the period, with just under five minutes to play, Lafreniere almost scored his first goal of the game with a wrap-around but fluttered the puck over the net.

When the Rangers pulled Shesterkin for an extra attacker, Pettersson picked up his fourth point of the night with an empty netter at 18:29. Overall, the home team piled up 42 shots, winning the statistic by 16, and dominating in the faceoff circle 59-41%. However, the most telling number of the night was New York had 13 giveaways to Vancouver’s one, with Wheeler and Will Cuylle leading all skaters with three. In the previous two games, they have now committed a total of 30 giveaways.

The chances we let up were just too loud,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “There was about a dozen. You can’t win giving up 5 goals, so that has to get taken care of.”

Rangers Notes

  • Panarin had a goal and an assist, collecting his 19th multi-point game of the season.
  • Shesterkin surrendered five goals tonight, the fifth time in 25 games this year.
  • Former first-round pick Brennan Othmann skated just 6:34 in his third NHL game.
  • Trocheck had two goals and now has seven points in his past three games

The Rangers will head to St. Louis to take on the Blues on Thursday.

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