The juggling of the Rangers' top three lines by Rangers coach Alain Vigneault didn't produce the desired results Wednesday night. "The first two periods, there wasn't much," Vigneault said, speaking about "quality opportunities" after the 1-0 loss to the Blackhawks.
In the third period, it wasn't much better; the Blackhawks fired 17 shots on Cam Talbot; the Rangers managed 10 on Scott Darling.
In the first game without Martin St. Louis, who is out for 10 days to two weeks with a right knee sprain, the top nine players had just 17 shots on goal; Derek Stepan had six of them; center Kevin Hayes, moved up to the second-line wing, had none.
Vigneault also tinkered with the defense pairs, separating Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, who played the right side with Keith Yandle and sometimes with Marc Staal. That worked out better than the forward-shuffling.
On the power play, in a 1-23 slide, there were four forwards on the first unit, (Rick Nash, Stepan, Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider) and one defenseman, Yandle. Yandle finished with no shots in 24:07, including 2:15 on the power play.
Yandle, who is second in the NHL with 24 power-play assists, almost always played in Arizona with another defenseman, mostly Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Mike Stone, on the point, but he had expected only a slight difference.
Rookie goalie Mackenzie Skapski, who has won both of his starts while Henrik Lundqvist has been sidelined, will remain the backup until Lundqvist is ready to go, Vigneault confirmed . . . The Blackhawks have won four in a row, and are 8-2-1 in their last 11 . . . The Blueshirts had earned at least a point in 10 of the last 12 games against the Hawks, dating to Nov. 16, 2003.