The Chicago Blackhawks were on a nine-game losing streak. Corey Crawford, goalie for the Blackhawks, had not won in a month. The Blackhawks had not won a road game in nearly two months.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella knew that the Blackhawks had a lot to prove after an embarrassing losing rout, and he was right.
The Blackhawks jumped to a startling 4-0 lead by the end of the first period after a series of breakaways, a shot off the post, and a penalty shot.
The Rangers did the best they could to stop the bleeding, playing a much more aggressive second period. Assistant captain Marc Staal had a laser-like shot from the blueline just over three minutes into the second period. The goal was nearly deflected by Stu Bickel, who has remained a forward on the fourth line as Ruslan Fedotenko remains out since sustaining a brutal hit a few games back.
A controversial call also came in the second period when captain Ryan Callahan attempted to stuff in the puck past Crawford. The referees blew the whistle early, with the puck still in motion underneath Crawford’s pad. But the referees determined that because the puck was under his pad, Crawford stopped the puck. The goal went under review but was ultimately denied.
Callahan was livid, as can be seen in the inserted picture.
Late in the third period, Carl Hagelin would tip in a pass from Ryan McDonagh to make it 4-2 Blackhawks.
But that was the closest the Rangers would get in this disappointing loss.
According to Blueshirts United, Tortorella never considered pulling Martin Biron from the net despite his early struggles. Biron would go on to make 18 saves, and looked much more comfortable as time went on in the game.
The Rangers went 0-7 on the powerplay – something they desperately need to improve if they expect to go deep in the postseason. It could’ve easily been the game changer tonight.
Perhaps Biron summed up tonight’s fortunes the best:
“To make that one save on the penalty shot and give your team some momentum early on, I think, would have been a big way to start. But they get that, then follow by hitting a post and it goes in, it’s a couple of daggers right there.”
Wojtek Wolski and Jeff Woywitka, both back from their two week AHL conditioning stints, were healthy scratches. Tortorella remains unsure when or how to reinsert either into the lineup.