Rangers not Quick enough; lose to Kings 2-1

NHL: New York Rangers at Los Angeles Kings
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday night, in the second game of a four-game road trip against the Pacific Division opponents, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers 2-1, leaving the visitors winless on the trip thus far.

After a lackluster performance against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, the Rangers continued their road woes with a clunker against the Kings, who were 1-6-4 heading into Saturday night.

Los Angeles backup David Rittich was hardly tested, stopping 22 shots, while Jonathan Quick had a heroes welcome in his first game back at Crypto.com Arena since a trade last season and finished the night with 24 saves on 26 shots.

Chris Kreider tallied the lone goal for the Rangers in the contest, who only had eight shots through the first 30 minutes. Even though they finished the night with 23, many attempts were from a distance, and the Blueshirts barely penetrated the high-danger areas. Alexis Lafreniere had the tying goal on his stick but was denied by Rittich’s toe in the final minute.

“Guys are probably pissed off,” coach Peter Laviolette explained. “I didn’t like the start. It was no good and we were outworked.”

Related: Jonathan Quick starts in LA

Los Angeles Kings 2 vs New York Rangers 1

The Kings got on the board first, scoring a late goal with 35 seconds left in the first period. Rangers’ killer Kevin Fiala (15 points in 13 career games) netted his 11th goal of the year with an assist from Trevor Moore. After Moore circled the net, he fed Fialia at the top of the crease. He sidestepped a sprawling Quick, depositing the puck into an empty cage with the New York netminder on his stomach after overcommitting to the pass.

The opening goal capped off an impressive period for the home team, who outshot New York 12-2 and dominated the faceoff circle, winning 11 of the 15 draws. The two shots were the lowest total for the Rangers since the Mar. 31 game against the Buffalo Sabres. The only positive Rangers takeaway from the opening period is they blocked 11 shots, which cut Quick’s potential workload in half.

Although it took over 30 minutes to get into the game, the Rangers finally beat Rittich at 14:39 with their ninth shot of the contest. Chris Kreider tipped home a feed from Adam Fox for his 21st goal of the year, snapping a seven-game goalless drought. Once the puck stayed inside the Kings’ zone, Fox snapped a shot pass from the left side, which made its way to Kreider standing by the side of the night for the easy tap-in.

However, New York’s momentum in the latter half of the second period was halted once again by a late goal when Quinton Byfield buried a rebound for an unassisted lamplighter at 18:13. When Jaret Anderson-Dolan dashed to the net, his shot deflected off Quick’s shoulder and fell behind him on the goal line. Once K’Andre Miller attempted to clear the puck, he backhanded it onto Byfield’s stick, who was left undefended by Barclay Goodrow in the slot.

The Rangers bounced back in the third period, collecting 10 shots, but failed to capitalize on either powerplay opportunity, including a six-on-four in the final two minutes. Meanwhile, Zac Jones kept New York in the game by breaking up Alex Laferriere on a breakaway attempt in the third period. Miller had a breakaway for the Rangers in the first period, accounting for one of the two shots in the period.

Earlier in the first period, Quick was honored with a tribute video and a long standing ovation by the Kings and their fans.

“It was a just a hockey game,” Quick tried to downplay. “Trying to get two points and we just came up short.”

Rangers Notes

  • Kreider collected his 136th road goal, moving into a tie for fourth place on the Rangers all-time list with Camille Henry.
  • After 16 years in a Kings uniform, Quick is 1-1-0 when facing his former team.
  • Zac Jones skated just 10:51 in his second NHL game since Dec. 15
  • Zibanejad has four points in the last three games
  • The Kings held the Rangers to one goal in a game for the sixth time this season and the third time since Jan. 1.

The Rangers have no time to dwell on the loss as they return to the ice tonight with a contest against the 30th-ranked Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center, with the opening faceoff scheduled for 8:30 pm ET.

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