Rangers begin road trip with deflating 5-1 loss to Golden Knights

NHL: New York Rangers at Vegas Golden Knights
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers lost to the Vegas Golden Knights 5-1 on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena, beginning their four-game road trip through the Western Conference with a loss.

After the opening faceoff, the Rangers dominated the first ten minutes of the game before two goals just 3:13 apart in the first period put New York in a hole they never dug themselves out of.

Backed by two goals from Ivan Barbashev and 29 saves from Logan Thompson, the Golden Knights weathered a dominant Rangers team who initially had an 11-3 shot advantage a dozen minutes into the contest.

Mika Zibanejad tallied an early powerplay goal to begin the third period, allowing Artemi Panarin to extend his point streak to three games, but it was a little too late for the Blueshirts. Igor Shesterkin finished the night with a .840 save percentage, making 21 saves and dropping his 11th decision of the season.

“They played hard the whole night,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We just couldn’t get anything to drop for us. I think the possession was heavily in our favor. I don’t the chances matched that, but there was still a lot of good looks in there.”

Since the Philadelphia Flyers won their fifth game in a row, paired with this latest Rangers loss, New York’s lead in the Metropolitan Division is just two points heading into the weekend.

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Golden Knights 5 vs New York Rangers 1

New York pinned Vegas in their end for two minutes to begin the game, forcing Thompson to stand on his head to keep the puck out of his net. Despite the momentum on their side to start the road trip, it quickly disappeared when Marchessault opened the scoring at 11:35.

Minutes later, Barbashev collected his first of two goals on the night when he deflected a shot from Nick Roy past Shesterkin. Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette challenged the call on the ice, thinking that Barbashev kicked the puck in, but the challenge failed, leading to an unsuccessful Golden Knights powerplay opportunity.

After getting 11 shots in the first half of the period, New York didn’t get another in the opening frame before registering just six in the second period before Vegas extended their lead with two goals just 25 seconds apart at 17:59 and 18:24.

While Braden Schneider was sitting in the box for an interference call on Barbashev, the Golden Knights forward netted his second goal of the game less than a minute into the man advantage with a snipe from the bumper position.

At even strength, Keegan Kolesar tipped home a Kaedan Korczak shot, giving the defending Stanley Cup champions a commanding 4-0 lead they never surrendered. When Laviolette pulled Shesterkin with over three and half minutes to go and New York on a six-on-four powerplay, former Rangers skater Brett Howden buried an empty net goal to seal the 5-1 victory.

The Bleushirts tallied their only goal of the game 40 seconds into the third period when Zibanejad netted his 15th of the season off a beautiful feed cross-crease from Chris Kreider and Panarin.

“We talk about getting bodies in the front of the net,” Kreider explained. “We could probably do a better a job of that.”

Both teams finished the game one-for-three on the man advantage, winning 24 faceoffs a piece. As one of the top faceoff teams in the league, the even split against the Golden Knights marks the fifth time in the past seven games New York hasn’t won the battle in the circle.

Rangers Notes

  • Zibanejad has 15 points in 11 games against the Golden Knights
  • Shesterkin has never played Vegas, losing his first contest on Thursday
  • Tonight was the 11th time Shesterkin has given up at least four goals in a game in 2023-24
  • Ryan Lindgren played 18 shifts and 19:17 in his 300th career game
  • The Rangers are now 4-5-2 all-time against the Golden Knights

On Saturday night, New York will face the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena. After losing to the Nashville Predators on Thursday, the Kings are 1-6-4 in their last 11 games and starving for offense. The game will begin at 10:30 pm ET.

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