VANCOUVER, British Columbia — In the NHL, there is no room to feel good about moral victories. Not when you are a team like the Rangers, fighting and scrapping and desperately trying to hang in the playoff race. Not when you are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
So when Tyler Myers’ seeing-eye wrist shot got through a crowded slot and beat Alexandar Georgiev with 1:29 left in the third period to give the Canucks a 2-1 win on Saturday night, it was a devastating blow to a Rangers team that played its best game in a week and still ended up losing its third game in a row.
After the Canucks earned their seventh straight victory, Georgiev said he never saw the puck through all the bodies in front of him.
The Rangers ended their four-game road trip 1-3, but they were winless in the Western Canada portion, losing to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
“Edmonton, we didn’t start great, but we finished strong; Calgary probably wasn’t as bad as it looked, and tonight I thought we played a real good game,’’ forward Ryan Strome said. “At least [we need to] get it to overtime, get a point. We’re a minute away. I thought we dominated the third.
“If we play like that most games, I think we’re going to win hockey games. Unfortunately, at this point in the year, you need points. It definitely stings right now. A lot of guys [are ticked] off, and rightfully so. This was a really tough road trip, the result. And this’ll sting for a couple days here.’’
Said Rangers coach David Quinn, “I always think we can play better, but I certainly loved a lot about our game tonight. Right from the drop of the puck. I really loved our forecheck, we got out of our end quickly; we didn’t mess around with the puck in the neutral zone — we did almost everything right except score.
“It really was a kick in the gut to have that shot go in and to play as well as we did in the third and give that up late. But hey, we’ve got to fight through some adversity here.’’
The Rangers return to New York with a 19-18-4 record at the midpoint of their season, and with 42 points, they are seven points out of the second wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They will host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Celebrating ’90s Night, and highlighting their 1994 Stanley Cup runner-up team — which, of course, lost to the Rangers — the Canucks wore the same black-and-yellow uniforms they wore that season. And they may have gotten an emotional lift from the pregame ceremony, which brought back a handful of their ’94 players.
Vancouver took the lead at 1:46 of the first period. Antoine Roussel was first to a rebound in the slot and popped it in past Georgiev for his fifth goal.
The Rangers, who allowed the first goal in each game of the Western Canada portion of the road trip, tied it up relatively quickly, thanks to some great work by Chris Kreider. He won a loose puck in the lower left-wing circle and sent it across to Pavel Buchnevich, who smacked it in at 7:59.
But that was all they got against All-Star goalie Jacob Markstrom, who made 36 saves. Markstrom frustrated them the rest of the way, making a number of great saves, including one on Jacob Trouba with 3:39 left in the third period to keep the score tied and set the stage for Myers’ winner.