The good news: After scoring just twice on the power play in an 18-game drought that ended two games ago, the Rangers scored twice on a double-minor in the third period on Wednesday.
The bad news: The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks scored three power play goals, including Artemi Panarin’s game winner, and the young Russian then added an empty-netter for a hat trick in a 5-3 win at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to score three straight goals, including two with the man advantage in the first 2:17 of the third period, only to see the Blackhawks tie the game with their second power play goal of the evening, from Andrew Shaw at 9:53. Panarin then beat Henrik Lundqvist with three minutes to play with Keith Yandle in the box for holding.
“It’s something we can’t go back and re-do,” said Derek Stepan. “Our bench didn’t feel like they were penalties. We’ve got to get our penalty-kill straightened out. We had a lot of guys playing at a high level. We put ourselves in position to win a hockey game, and we couldn’t come up with it. It’s unfortunate.”
With the Blueshirts trailing 2-1 late in the second period in Ryan McDonagh’s return after missing four games with a concusion, Chicago forward Vincent Hinostroza caught Dom Moore with a high-stick in the face and was assessed a double minor, which carried into the first 3:35 of the third period.
Derick Brassard scored his career-high 20th goal, firing a shot that ticked defenseman Duncan Keith’s stick and flew over goalie Corey Crawford’s glove on the first half of the power play just 24 seconds into the third period to tie the score at 2. And then at 2:27 while in the second half of the double minor, Kevin Hayes sent a backdoor pass to Dan Boyle at the left post. His first try was a flub that Crawford stopped, but Boyle’s second whack from the crease went in.
The Rangers appeared to tie the game at 1 at 1:52 of the second period when Stepan, with a pass from behind the net, found Dan Girardi for a one-timer from the right circle that flew past Crawford’s glove and was ruled as a goal.
But Crawford complained that he was bumped by Chris Kreider in front, which he was, preventing him from making the save. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville challenged the call, which was quickly overturned.
Kreider was sent off for holding Niklas Hjalmarsson at 8:17, and from the left circle, Artemi Panarin lasered a top-corner wrister through a screen set by former Ranger Artem Anisimov for the 2-0 lead. It was the 20th goal for the Russian rookie.
Kevin Hayes’ 10th of the season trimmed lead to 2-1 at 13:45. Viktor Stalberg pinned his man in the corner, allowing Oscar Lindberg to grab the puck and find Hayes alone at the crease.
With 4:28 left, Lundqvist preserved the one-goal deficit, stopping Teuvo Teravainen racing down the left side and the quick rebound on the doorstep from Brandon Mashinter.
The Hawks drew first blood Wednesday night when Andrew Desjardins redirected a pass from Teravainen near the right boards past Lundqvist’s stick side at 3:30
for an even strength goal. But it was the penalty kill that doomed the Rangers.
“I think the penalty kill comes down to just every little detail, you must be extremely good at the little things, and I have to come up with the extra save,” said Lundqvist, who made 15 saves on 19 Hawks shot. “Together, we need to figure this out . . . . I do not agree with the last two calls, and that was the difference. Their power play killed us, but that’s how it goes.”