Thrashers 6, Rangers 4
Much like in their previous three matches, the Rangers got exactly what they deserved last night in the Garden.
Unlike what transpired against Toronto, Boston and the Devils, the Rangers were unintelligent with the puck, did not take the body and were a travesty in all three zones.
It was a formula for failure, which was exactly what the Rangers did in their 6-4 loss to Atlanta. And their collective failure left John Tortorella fuming.
“We started making lateral passes, turnovers in the neutral zone and we allowed them to play at 140 feet. Obviously we had some breakdowns throughout the game,” Tortorella assessed after the game. “We weren’t playing hard enough. They were outworking us in a lot of different areas. We didn’t play the way we needed to play throughout the 60 (minutes). We played in spurts and they capitalized.”
Later, when a television reporter questioned Tortorella about why the coach said the team did not deserve to win, his response was firm and pointed. “We lost and we deserved to lose. We shouldn’t put ourselves in that kind of spot, allowing five goals,” Tortorella said as his anger rose. “We didn’t stay within ourselves and play the way we needed to. We shouldn’t have let it get out of hand.”
The Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 lead 38 seconds into the match when Ryan Callahan converted a behind-the-net feed from Artem Anisimov—who did not play the third period after being hit in the right ankle with a shot. Tortorella announced the second-year Russian center will go for a MRI today. The coach also noted that defenseman Michal Rozsival suffered a hyper-extended knee —by slipping the puck under Chris Mason. The Rangers built on their quick start by allowing a hard working but hardly talented Thrashers team to outscore them 5-1 in a span of 45:08.
“It’s just tough,” Callahan said. “It seemed like after the (first) goal we let up a bit, not getting pucks deep and try to fool around with it at their blueline and they were getting turnovers on us.”
The self-immolation was as thorough as it was quick. Eleven Thrashers recorded at least one point. Nine were plus-one or better. Seven players had at least one assist. Bryan Little, Evander Kane, Nic Bergfors, Eric Boulton, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd scored goals for the Thrashers. Chris Mason stopped 24 shots.
Tortorella announced before the game that he was going to start Marty Biron because the organizational decision-makers have determined that by playing the backup four times a month would keep Henrik Lundqvist fresh for the critical games in March and April and perhaps beyond.
Atlanta pierced Biron for five goals on 25 shots last night. Afterwards both said Biron needed to make vital saves to keep the team in the game.
The Rangers began to forecheck after Byfuglien’s power-play goal 5:01 into the third increased the Thrashers lead to 5-2. Todd White, who replaced Anisimov at center on the Callahan and Dubinsky line, beat Mason stickside at 7:56. Brian Boyle cut the deficit to 5-4 with his third of the season at 10:07. But that would be all the Rangers would get. Matt Gilroy’s slapshot hit the crossbar late in the period before Ladd ended any pretence of a comeback with his empty-netter with at 19:36.
Three things we saw:
1 Dominated— The Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 lead 38 seconds in when Ryan Callahan jammed a behind-the-net feed from Artem Anisimov under Chris Mason. Instead of collapsing, Atlanta dominated the Rangers from there. Eric Boulton gave Atlanta some breathing room just 49 seconds into the third, then Dustin Byfuglien scored five minutes later to make it 5-2.
2 Long night for Biron — John Tortorella made the decision to start Martin Biron because having the backup play four games a month would “benefit [Henrik Lundqvist] in the last month of the season.” Atlanta pierced Biron five times — he gave up just one goal in his other appearance this season — but that was mostly due to ineffective play by the Rangers on both ends.
3 F-bombs flying — Tortorella had not been as volatile as he was this time last year. That ended after Evander Kane’s snap shot goal at 10:17 in the second period that put the Thrashers up 2-1. Tortorella called timeout and screamed at his charges. The Rangers tallied two goals in the third, but it wasn’t enough.