The New York Rangers might have a little less wind in their sails Wednesday when they face the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
The Rangers, who lead the Metropolitan Division, were the hottest team in the NHL before their 11-game point streak (10-0-1) ended with a thud Monday in a 6-3 loss to the Stars in Dallas.
New York gave up six straight goals, including five in the third, to the Stars after taking a 2-0 lead.
“It’s tough to finish that way and give up the goals in the third period,” said Rangers coach Peter Laviolette, who pointed to turnovers and puck mismanagement by his team as culprits.
Laviolette said the disappointment of the loss made it difficult to assess the end of the point streak.
“I’m not there yet,” he said.
New York forward Mike Zibanejad also was thrown by the way that game unfolded.
“(That) one’s tough. It’s hard to handle,” Zibanejad said. “But we’ll move on.”
The Rangers outscored their opponents 41-23 during their point streak, with the only blemish a 5-4 shootout loss against Minnesota Nov. 4.
One thing that did go right that game for the Rangers was a strong start, which has continued to be a strength for them.
“We’ve liked our starts,” said New York captain Jacob Trouba, who had two assists against Dallas and hopes that trend continues so his club can erase the memory of a bad loss.
“It’s nothing to panic over,” Trouba said. “Just move on and keep playing our game.”
The Penguins, who are holding their traditional Thanksgiving Eve home game, are in a different state of mind from the Rangers.
Pittsburgh is coming off one of its more complete games, a 3-0 home win Sunday over the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights. That came in the team’s third game in four nights. It ended a two-game slide that blunted a preceding five-game winning streak.
It was the Penguins’ NHL-leading fifth shutout win in 17 games, and they got something that has been lacking — secondary scoring — after their core players had been providing by far the bulk of their offense.
“It’s always good to chip in, help out the top two lines (so) that they can take a night off every once in a while and still win a game,” said Pittsburgh fourth-liner Noel Acciari, who scored against Vegas, along with defensive defenseman Ryan Graves.
Pittsburgh also got a boost from backup goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, who shut out the Golden Knights the same day he came off long-term injured reserve because of a hand injury.
No. 1 Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry has struggled some with inconsistency, so there might be some sentiment for coming back with Nedeljkovic in the important Metropolitan Division matchup against New York. Coach Mike Sullivan has not divulged a starter for the first meeting of the season with the Rangers.
“We’ll make decisions moving forward,” Sullivan said. “But what I will tell you is we have a lot of hockey coming up (and) we’re going to rely on both of those guys.”
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who leads the team with 12 goals and 22 points, had his 11-game point streak halted Sunday.
One of Crosby’s linemates, forward Bryan Rust, will miss Wednesday’s game with an lower-body injury. Forward Rickard Rakell (upper-body injury) is out indefinitely while defenseman Chad Ruhwedel is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
–Field Level Media