“We were awful. It’s embarrassing and it is not acceptable.”
New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant struggled to find answers after his team blew a 3-0 lead in the final period and fell to the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 Saturday afternoon.
The Rangers have struggled all season to play a complete three periods of hockey and Saturday afternoon may have reached its apex of frustration.
“I wish I had the perfect answer…if I had, I don’t think we would be talking about losing this game and the way we did. I thought we kind of got away from the things that we did so well in the first and second periods.” Mika Zibanajad explained afterward.
Adam Fox got the scoring started when he found Alexis Lafreniere for the game’s first goal and an early 1-0 lead for the Rangers. It appeared that New York had taken a quick 2-0 lead later in the first period but an Artemi Panarin, powerplay goal was eventually waved off after replay showed the Rangers were offsides. Panarin’s goal wouldn’t be the only goal waived off either. Braden Schneider had a goal waived off as well midway through the second as well.
Both waived-off goals would come back to haunt New York.
Later in the second period though it appeared the Rangers’ luck would turn. Chris Kreider would score off a deflected shot off Campbell that ended up trickling in for a 2-0 lead. Just 30 seconds later a two-on-one advantage would create a mass scrum in front of the crease that Julien Gauthier would finish with his fourth goal of the season.
But the joys from the first two periods would be silenced quickly in the third. Evan Bouchard, who came into the game having not scored a goal on the season scored two in the first seven minutes in the final period. Compounding both goals was the loss of Ryan Lindgren who suffered an upper-body injury and did not return after a collision with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
The home MSG crowd went from concerned to dead quiet just minutes later when Dylan Holloway scored his first goal of the year to tie the game at one.
“We were giving them way too many chances. I think we were just on our heels the whole period. I think we were trying to protect the lead too much and they’re going to take advantage of that.” Adam Fox told reporters.
In the final minutes of play, a Lafreniere roughing penalty set the stage for Leon Draisaitl to net the game-winner past Igor Shesterkin to complete the four-goal collapse of the Blueshirts.
“I don’t have an explanation. I thought we played a great two periods. We came out in the third period and were careless and sloppy…a couple of dumb penalties didn’t help.” Gallant added.
The Blueshirts (10-8-4) will be back on the ice Monday when they take on the upstart Devils at MSG.
- Ryan Lindgren’s absence was felt more than just in the defensive zone. Lindgren tallied two assists during the contest, his first multi-point game of the season. He also made key defensive plays throughout the first two periods to keep the Oilers scoreless at that point.
- Vitali Kravtsov did not play for the seventh straight game. The former first-round pick’s absence has been compounded by New York’s inability to finish in front of the net, but questions about the future of Kravtsov in New York will only grow the more he doesn’t play.
- It was the 18th assist and 24th overall point for Fox on the season. His first-period assist was his 10th point recorded in 11 games. The former Norris Trophy winner has been one of the top players for the Rangers early in the season.
- Gauthier’s goal set a new career high in goals. The former first-round pick had three last season in 49 games played. It’s taken Gauthier just 14 this season to set his new high.
- Saturday’s comeback was the third, third-period rally from the Oilers this season. They scored three goals to tie late in the third and finally on a powerplay to end it.