CALGARY, Alberta - After Friday's morning skate, the Rangers, riding a five-game winning streak, were unanimous in their message: We can't look past anyone.
Turns out they did. They dropped a 4-3 decision to the Calgary Flames, who are in 13th place in the Western Conference and out of playoff contention, at the Scotiabank Saddledome Friday night in the first game of a four-city road trip.
Said Marc Staal: "It hurts. It's [points] we need against a team that tonight we should have beaten, so it's not the way you want to start the road trip.''
With two goals on their first nine shots, the Flames took a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. The Rangers struck back with Brian Boyle's tap-in at the left post at 2:12 of the second period and a long, deflected shot by Raphael Diaz 39 seconds later. Brad Richards followed with his 18th goal, beating Karri Ramo at 5:39.
"We got a little too confident and got a little loose,'' Richards said. "They just got a little momentum and they get a couple bounces and boom, we're behind again. We've got to tighten it up again right away.''
But the Flames did not fold. Henrik Lundqvist made four saves in a flurry and minutes later, at 13:49, Kevin Westgarth outmuscled Diaz in the crease to tie the score at 3. Lundqvist, angry at the sloppy defense, slammed his stick and began yelling at teammates.
"We didn't do a good enough job coming back in our zone, picking up the rush, and after the rush, protecting in front of our net,'' coach Alain Vigneault said.
After some more loose play, Mike Cammallieri skated free into the right circle and his wrister eluded Lundqvist, starting his ninth consecutive game, with 7.8 seconds left in the second. The Rangers trailed again, 4-3. And Ramo, who made 38 saves, stopped everything in the third.
Said Lundqvist, "It's just a weak goal . . . It's just a tough goal to give up and it's on me. I have to play it better.''
Said Staal, "We made a couple mistakes where we were trying to create something that wasn't there, and they come down and hurt us a couple times. We started cheating a little bit.''
The loss damaged the Rangers' chances of getting home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Flyers (39-27-7, 85 points), who defeated the Maple Leafs, 4-2, Friday night, are only one point behind the Rangers (41-30-4, 86 points) for second place in the Metropolitan Division and have nine games left. The Rangers, who visit Edmonton Sunday, have seven.
Derek Dorsett's crosschecking penalty 3:03 into the game opened the door for the Flames. Curtis Glencross' shot from the left rang the far post, and no Ranger could clear the rebound. Rookie Joe Colborne found it and backhanded it over Lundqvist for a 1-0 lead at 4:51
When Rick Nash's pass deflected in off Martin St. Louis' skate in the crease, officials ruled it a goal at 6:49. But a video review waved it off, ruling that St. Louis redirected the puck. St. Louis, acquired from Tampa Bay on March 5 for Ryan Callahan, continued to be snakebit. He has only three assists in 13 games and no points in the last five.
Later in the first period, the Rangers' backcheck was slow to react in transition and the defense parted. Trailer Mark Giordano walked in and banged one in off the post on Lundqvist's glove side for a 2-0 lead at 16:49.
With 26.2 seconds left, Ramo made his best save of the period, just getting a piece of Derek Stepan's point-blank backhander with his glove. So after 20 minutes, the Rangers had 18 shots but trailed by two goals.Kreider has hand surgery. Chris Kreider had surgery Friday to repair an injury to his left hand at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. He will be sidelined indefinitely, the team said.
Kreider, who reportedly broke a bone in his hand, was injured against Columbus on March 21. He has 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points, along with 72 penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating in 66 games.
Kreider is tied for first on the team in power-play goals (six), second in goals, second in hits and sixth in points. He also is tied for fourth among NHL rookies in points and ranks fifth in goals.