Rangers close out regular season with loss to Leafs, to play Devils in Rd 1

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers wrapped up another strong regular-season with a controversial 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

While the game didn’t matter for either team as they’re cemented in their respective division standings, it was still a nice little tune up for postseason action. Both sides played a free skating game with limited physicality, and produced an entertaining affair at the Garden that saw a Filip Chytil goal with 1.2 seconds on the clock disallowed for a kicking motion.

“I am proud of the guys with the way they played,” Gerard Gallant said. “Happy with the way we finished.”

After last night’s games were completed, the Rangers learned that the New Jersey Devils will officially be their first round opponent. The NHL has announced dates for Games 1 and 2 of the series.

Game 1: Rangers at Devils (Tuesday, April 18)
Game 2: Rangers at Devils (Thursday, April 20)

Rangers close out regular-season

new york rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers and Leafs played a cautious but quick first period with both sides coming away scoreless after 20 minutes.

Kaapo Kakko opened the scoring 1:38 into the second period with a nice backhand shot by Joseph Woll. It all started with a turnover that Vincent Trocheck took advantage of to get Kakko his 18th of the year and fourth goal in his last seven matches.

Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren got a lucky goal that changed direction on Jaroslav Halak after Niko Mikkola’s block attempt deflected off his stick just 3:09 into the final frame.

Artemi Panarin responded a few minutes later with a rip from the circle to regain the lead on the power play. Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad assisted on the tally. For Fox, it was his 60th assist this season making him the only other Rangers’ defender since Brian Leetch to record multiple 60 assist seasons.

A little over a minute later, the Rangers fell asleep at the wheel and watched William Nylander tie it all alone in front.

Noel Acciari netted the eventual game-winner at the 12:21 mark by following up his own shot and scoring an unassisted goal through Halak, who finished with 18 saves.

“We had our ups and downs for sure,” captain Jacob Trouba said. “We know what we’re capable of, we know what the goal is. I like our team heading into the playoffs and we’re ready to get this going.”

The Rangers concluded the evening with their annual “Jersey off our Backs” ceremony.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore