After a crushing end to his last start against Los Angeles on Friday, when the Kings scored the tying goal with 29.7 seconds left in regulation and an overtime game winner that he called “soft,” Rangers backup goalie Antti Raanta said Wednesday that he has put the loss behind him and is ready for his next chance.
That likely will come in Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Thursday, the second game of a back-to-back set for the Blueshirts. At 20-26-9, the Leafs are in last place in the Eastern Conference.
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“I have to get some wins,” said Raanta, who won his first four starts, but has not won since Nov. 15, a 4-3 decision over the Maple Leafs, and admits he has to prove himself. Raanta, who was rusty and shaky in Friday’s loss, has been working with goaltender coach Benoit Allaire on both technique and his mental approach.
The Finnish netminder and former Blackhawk seemed pleased that coach Alain Vigneault had said that he would probably play once a week down the stretch. “It’s a great thing if he said that,” Raanta said, “it brings you a little confidence.”
Wife expecting, Staal is scratched
Defenseman Marc Staal, whose wife was in the hospital awaiting the birth of the couple’s second child, was a healthy scratch, a situation that had been anticipated by Vigneault. Staal had played in the first 56 games. Dan Boyle, who missed practice on Tuesday with the flu, practiced and played, and it was the fifth consecutive game that rookie Dylan McIlrath had dressed.
The Blueshirts wore their heritage jerseys. They were 2-2-2 in six previous games wearing the dark blues . . . The Rangers have just five more games against Western Conference teams — all on the road — in St. Louis, Dallas, San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles.