Rangers coach David Quinn said on Monday that he still didn’t have enough information, after just six games, to make real judgments about his team. However, the coach promised, by the end of this current five-game homestand, he should have a better idea of how good his team really is.
Two games into the homestand, they’re not looking that good. Their losing streak grew to five games on Tuesday night, though they did at least get a point when they lost in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes, 3-2 at Madison Square Garden. Christian Dvorak beat Alexandar Georgiev with a wicked shot under the crossbar 1:04 into the three-on-three overtime to drop the Rangers to 2-4-1 on the season, while the Coyotes improved to 5-2-1.
“You can talk all you want about systems, and structure -- If you're not skating; if you're not moving your feet, and playing with an urgency and playing with a pace, you can't play this game and be successful,’’ Quinn said afterward. “You just can't do it. This game's simple, but it's hard; and we're just not doing the basics of what you're going to need to do to have success right now, consistently. Sometimes we do it, more often we don't.’’
“Of course, it’s frustrating – we’re losing five games in a row, right now,’’ said Jesper Fast, the defensive-minded forward who played most of the game on the top line, with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. “We’ve just got to keep focusing on doing the right things out there right now, staying in our structure and I mean, if we keep working hard and doing the right things, we’re going to win games, eventually. Right now, we’ve just got to focus on winning on Thursday (against Buffalo).’’
For the second straight game, the Rangers started poorly – they were outshot, 21-3 in the first period and trailed, 1-0 at the first intermission. But they fought back and were tied at 2 after two periods, on the strength of two goals by defenseman Tony DeAngelo – the same DeAngelo who’d been in Quinn’s doghouse a couple games ago, and had been benched for the entire third period and all but two shifts of the second period Friday in Washington.
But with the Rangers down after Lawson Crouse’s goal at 13:06 of the first, DeAngelo joined the rush on a two-on-one break and swept in the rebound of a Brendan Lemieux shot for his second goal of the season, at 5:04 of the second.
The Coyotes took a 2-1 lead on a power-play goal by Alex Goligoski, at 13:46 of the second, with Pavel Buchnevich sitting out a tripping penalty, but DeAngelo’s second goal, this one on a power play, tied the game, again at 18:00. Arizona’s Christian Fischer was sitting out a penalty for delay of game after shooting the puck over the glass, when the Coyotes were called for having too many men on the ice, giving the Rangers a five-on-three advantage for 1:09.
After the first penalty expired, the Rangers’ second power-play unit got them back level on the scoreboard. Kaapo Kakko, who had expressed his frustrations about the season to a Finnish reporter, passed the puck to Ryan Strome, down by the left goalpost and Strome relayed it across the crease just as DeAngelo drove the net to tap it in.
The Rangers, though, would need to kill a five-on-three Coyotes power play early in the third period after Strome was called for tripping at 5:40 and Brendan Smith was penalized for shooting the puck over the glass at 6:04. But the trios of Zibanejad, Marc Staal and Jacob Trouba and then Fast, Brady Skjei and Libor Hajek killed it off and the Rangers were able to earn their first point since Oct. 5.