Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers defends against...

Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers defends against David Steckel #20 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Oct. 27, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

If the Rangers thought they could ride an opening-night high, they were wrong. They crashed after 20 minutes. After a intercontinental month on the road, home was not comforting.

After a dynamic first period in which they drove the net, forechecked and fired 16 shots on goal -- a season high -- at Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, the emotion generated from playing at Madison Square Garden for the first time this season mysteriously evaporated.

The Leafs scored four unanswered goals on Henrik Lundqvist, who arrived with a 1.83 goals-against average but admitted that his concentration level was lower than usual, and Toronto beat the Rangers, 4-2.

"We were lethargic physically and mentally," coach John Tortorella said. "You get juiced from coming back home and playing in front of the crowd, but after they scored their first goal . . . we struggled with our energy; we struggled making passes . . . We had three-on-twos and two-on-ones and we struggled getting a shot on net."

The loss of focus stretched into the crease. "I was a little surprised on a couple goals," Lundqvist said. "I wasn't as sharp as I needed to be mentally."

The evening started with fanfare and optimism. On a four-on-four, Dan Girardi scored his first of the season when his slap slot from above the right circle bounced off Gustavsson's pads and into the net at 6:23. But an aggressive Ryan Callahan twice was called for goaltender interference, and the goals were disallowed. The Rangers (3-3-2) did very little after that. Both Callahan and Tortorella agreed that the calls were legit, but the Rangers skated off with the 1-0 lead nonetheless. It didn't last long.

With 1:20 gone in the second, Matt Lombardi took a pass along the left boards in what wasn't a dangerous shooting position, but the wrister squeezed under Lundqvist's right arm. He redeemed himself by managing to get his right pad on Phil Kessel's breakaway, the first of two stops on Kessel on solo rushes.

With the score tied at 1, Lundqvist couldn't smother a shot and it bounced in front, where Joffrey Lupul put home the rebound for his fifth goal at 2:11 of the third to give the Leafs their first lead at 2-1. The Leafs scored again at 6:33 when Mike Komisarek poked the puck away from Artem Anisimov at the Leafs' blue line and Clarke MacArthur, on a rush to the crease, beat Lundqvist with a low shot.

Mike Brown used Mike Eminger as a screen in the left circle to rip one high glove side to seal it with 6:06 left.

It took several Rangers to stop the Leafs from scoring more goals. Michael Sauer slid across the crease to deny Mikhail Grabovski's shot from the left post toward the empty net. And with Lundqvist out of position, Lupul fired from behind the net, but a kneeling Girardi smothered the puck in the crease.

The offensive woes continued, with just 14 shots in the final 40 minutes. When Del Zotto scored at 15:26 of the third, it was the team's 16th goal in eight games. "We have some guys that lack confidence," Tortorella said.

Brad Richards, pointless in the last two games, agreed that he and sniper Marian Gaborik were not always in sync. "I've known him for a month now,'' Richards said. "It'd be great if we clicked perfectly, but realistically, we have some work to do."

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