Henrik Lundqvist has worn blue this fall…albeit blue mixed with the yellow hues of the Team Sweden jersey during the World Cup of Hockey.
Finally donning his more traditional New York Rangers jersey for the first time since their playoff exit last spring, Lundqvist was tested immediately by a familiar foe, the Philadelphia Flyers, in his first exhibition action, but passed all but one test in the Rangers’ 4-3 overtime loss. Playing just past the game’s halfway mark, Lundqvist faced 18 shots, 15 in the 1st period. It was only Jordan Weal’s shot that got by him, Weal’s 3rd goal of the preseason. Lundqvist then gave way to Mackenzie Skapski.
The contest was a quest for the Rangers. Despite the lack of stakes, things got heated early, as Philadelphia’s hard-hitting defenseman Radko Gudas received a game misconduct for a dangerous hit on Jimmy Vesey, who had to leave the game. When the Rangers failed to capitalize on the subsequent penalty time, Philadelphia scored when the Rangers got into trouble in the middle frame.
With a returning Vesey and JT Miller in the box, Jakub Voracek scored his first goal of the preseason, as did Travis Konecny 42 seconds later. However, the Rangers salvaged a goal from Ryan Graves in the latter stages of the period. It was the first step into a big New York comeback.
Reassuring Rangers fans that he was perfectly fine, Brandon Pirri, after sitting out Saturday’s preseason visit to New Jersey, scored his 4th goal of the preseason, an unassisted tally that made it 3-2. Just after the midway mark, Vesey reassured Rangers fans everywhere that he would be just all right from the prior injury with a power play goal that knotted things up at 3. The goal with an assist from Derek Stepan, likewise making his preseason debut after World Cup action.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, victory was not to be, as less than a minute into the extra frame, Voracek put in his second tally of the game, giving Philadelphia the 4-3 win. WIth the loss, the Rangers dropped to 2-1-1 in the preseason.
In addition to Stepan, fellow Team USA World Cup participant Ryan McDonagh also made his preseason debut for the Rangers. The Rangers’ captain had two shots, and also blocked two more and laid down a hit in just over 27 minutes of ice time. Miller and Robin Kovacs also provided assists for the Rangers, while Rick Nash and Kevin Hayes each put up a trio of shots. In a chippy game, featuring 43 total penalty minutes, Hayes and Miller led the Rangers with three hits each.
The Rangers will play their penultimate game of the preseason, part of a back-to-back tomorrow night against the New York Islanders. Stay tuned to blueshirtsnation.com for all the updates and analysis!