New York Rangers can’t handle Leafs surge, lose 3-2 in OT
The game was right there for the New York Rangers to take with a 2-1 lead in the late stages of the third period. Unfortunately, the Blueshirts had no response for the Toronto Maple Leafs surge that tied it and no scruples on the goal that won it in overtime for the hosts.
“They’re a really good team and real talented,” Gerard Gallant said. “When you’re losing 2-1 you’re going to push. They made a good play and they attacked and they got a goal. But I liked the game and I thought we played well in a tough building with a real good team against us. I want the two points, but we’ll take the one and run.”
New York Rangers fold late in Toronto
The Maple Leafs jumped out to an early lead when their first shot of the game eluded Igor Shesterkin. At the 2:27 mark, Pontus Holmberg capitalized on Julien Gauthier’s and Ben Harpur’s defensive coverage miscue to break in alone firing a backhand for the 1-0 advantage.
New York quickly put that behind them and focused on playing their game looking for the equalizer. That came early in the middle frame off a faceoff– and I mean directly off a faceoff.
Filip Chytil picked up that the Leafs’ center was a little off to the side on the draw, leaving a clear line of sight to the net. As soon as the puck hit the ice from the ref’s hand, the big center one-timed it at the net to beat Ilya Samsonov.
“We didn’t have a set play,” Chytil said. “So I was just thinking I’ll try it. It was just a moment in my head and it went it… Unfortunately it didn’t help us get two points.”
The Rangers Kid Line would get the lead a few minutes later off a hard-working and dynamic shift.
First, Alexis Lafreniere used his strength to protect the puck and buy time for Kaapo Kakko to get open. Once the pass was delivered, the impressive young winger drew a defender to him which allowed Chytil to get into position for another one-timer.
Shesterkin was then doing his best to hold off the Maple Leafs surge and maybe could’ve pulled off the win had Chris Kreider buried a wide-open tip during a power play in the third period.
Eventually, Timothy Liljegren tied the game after he blew by Kreider from the point to knot the contest at 2 with 4:11 remaining.
John Tavares almost won it with just a second on the clock but his shot rang off the crossbar. It didn’t matter because it took all of 19 seconds for Mitch Marner to beat an unprepared Blueshirts squad at the start of overtime.
The Leafs leading scorer simply danced around Artemi Panarin and K’ Andre Miller to slide by a stretching Shesterkin, who finished with 32 to saves.
“We got away from it in the third and gave them too many looks,” Jacob Trouba explained. “A team that good is going to capitalize if you give them too many good chances.”
Toronto native Will Cuylle, who was called up from the Hartford Wolf Pack, made his NHL debut playing 5:49 and finished with a -1 rating. Overall, he looked very good and used his size well and will likely get another game when the Vegas Golden Knights visit the Garden on Friday before the All-Star break.
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