Many were happy to see the year 2016 end. The New York Rangers, despite relative mediocrity in the ending calendar year, might be wishing for that year to come back if things keep up like this in 2017.
The Rangers gave up three separate leads on Saturday night, which ended in a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. It marks the first time the Rangers the Rangers lost in the second half of a back-to-back set this season, falling to 7-1-0, and it’s also the second time they’ve lost back-to-back games in regulation.
The Rangers (28-15-1) couldn’t pull out a win from the Atlantic Division leaders despite putting up four goals on Carey Price and winning three reviews. They pulled ahead the first time after Alain Vigneault won a coach’s challenge negating a Montreal goal, as Brandon Pirri scored his first goal since December 11 on a power play for a 1-0 first period lead. In the second, Alex Galchenyuk knotted things up with his 10th of the season, but Rick Nash got on the scoresheet in his second game back from injury for the 2-1 lead, one of the assists coming from fellow injury returnee Pavel Buchnevich, who has an active six game winning streak. Montreal again tied it when Brian Flynn scored, but a shorthanded goal by JT Miller gave the Rangers the lead back.
Then came the dreaded 62 seconds that would change the course of the Rangers’ brief road trip.
The death blow by Montreal (27-11-6) started innocently enough, with the tying goal by Alexei Emelin, but less than a minute later, Max Pacioretty gave them their first lead of the day. Afterwards, Emelin would assist on the insurance goal by Paul Byron for the crushing blow at 5-3. It would be another tough night for Henrik Lundqvist, who relieved Antti Raanta after the later was diagnosed with a lower body injury after a shutout first period.
Derek Stepan, part of a multi-point night, cut it to 5-4, but the Rangers were unable to press further, sent home in heartbreaking fashion.
The Rangers will now return to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, taking on the Dallas Stars (7 PM, MSG).