VANCOUVER — In the first game of a three-city Western Canada swing, the Rangers lost their composure in the third period yesterday and dropped a 2-1 decision to the Canucks.
After two scoreless periods at Rogers Arena, Dominic Moore went off for hooking at 1:32 and the Canucks had their third power play. But with 36 seconds left on that penalty, Jarret Stoll was knocked down in the Rangers zone, was whistled for illegally covering the puck. The Canucks went to short 5 on 3 and scored on the two-man advantage, when at 3:19, Alex Edler’s shot went through a screen and past Henrik Lundqvist for a 1-0 lead.
“From the way the ref explained it, he thought I covered it,” Stoll said. “I would understand if I gloved it, and had it with my hand, but it was in my body and they were hacking away trying to get at it. There was no way I could get up. Tough call.”
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who had animatedly questioned the call, then clapped sarcastically, the bench was chirping and it all prompted an unsportsmanlike penalty, which Chris Kreider served. Ryan McDonagh then high-sticked Alex Burrows in the face, but the Rangers avoided another power-play goal.
The game plan was to contain the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, who came into the match with 31 and 27 points respectively, more than any Ranger. Until the Edler goal, they had. But each had an assist on the 5-on-3, and Daniel ended up scoring the game-winner after Dan Boyle’s penalty shot had tied the game at 1.
At 8:54, defenseman Christopher Tanev was cited for covering the puck in the crease, triggering a penalty shot and Boyle deked goalie Ryan Miller and scored on his forehand to tie the score at 1. That didn’t last long. Thirty seconds later, Daniel Sedin put the Canucks ahead for goos, on an assist from his brother.
Vigneault challenged the goal, claiming Jannik Hansen interfered with Lundqvist, but the challenge was denied, and the goal stood.
“I had to challenge it a little bit, but that’s the downside, on a play like that you have to get back to the post,” Vigneault said.
To be sure, the Rangers were their own worst enemy. The Blueshirts power play, which had scored eight times in the last nine games and connected twice against Ottawa on Sunday, and had risen to fourth in the league at 22.5 percent efficiency. But they came up empty in four opportunities against the Canucks, who ranked 21st on the penalty kill at 79.3 percent. The final chance came with 7:33 left in regulation, which went by the boards after Boyle’s shot from the left side hit the far post.
When the game was scoreless, the Rangers came close to taking the lead twice. A deflected shot got past Miller at the end of the second period, but time had expired. Dan Girardi’s earlier tip of McDonagh’s shot rang off the crossbar.
“It was hard to create big chances, they just packed it in in front,” Lundqvist said. “We worked really hard the whole game to get a goal. ”
The Blueshirts had hoped for a quick start. They controlled play in the first period, with the top two lines were effective against a slow-moving defense, but couldn’t get a puck behind Miller, who stopped all 15 shots. The Rangers also missed the net with six shots and had six attempts blocked. Lundqvist, who had won his last four starts against the Canucks, made seven saves, with the best coming with 5:44 left, when Derek Dorsett cut through Dylan McIlrath and into the crease. In the second period, the Rangers attack slowed.