Fans of the New York Rangers angrily often point out the team has an unusual kink of letting players score their first goal of the season against them, or allowing ex-Rangers to have a day when revisiting Madison Square Garden in different colors.
Alas, both complaints came to fruition in Wednesday night’s tilt, as Trevor van Riemsdyk’s first score of the year gave the Blackhawks the lead, and former Blueshirt Artem Anisimov’s goal made a Rangers‘ equalizer irrelevant, and the Blackhawks took a 2-1 decision at Madison Square Garden.
Backup goalies, much like the two teams’ overtime tilt at United Center less than a week before, were the story, as Antti Raanta and Scott Darling again put on a goaltending show. Raanta withstood 11 Chicago shots in the first frame, but it was in the second period where all the scoring was done. Despite the Rangers (20-10-1) outshooting Chicago 16-7 in the frame, van Riemsdyk, the brother of 2007’s second overall pick James, was able to break through for the 1-0 lead. The Rangers were able to knot things up quickly, as Jesper Fast scored his third of the year. The goal was reviewed, tuning out the traditional Rangers goal song, but Rangers’ fans more than made up for it, singing their own version in an A capella performance that would make Anna Kendrick proud.
Victory, however, was not be, as Anisimov, a 2006 second round pick of the Rangers who departed in the summer of 2012, scored his 13th goal of the year, after assisting on van Riemsdyk’s goal. It was his fourth goal of December, and the game winner in Chicago’s 2-1 win, with Darling making several showstopping saves, 33 in total, to keep the Rangers off the board.
With this loss, the two teams split their season series, each winning on the other’s home ice.
The Rangers will now take on another Western Conference opponent in the Dallas Stars on Thursday night (8:00, MSG).