The New York Rangers are expected to play for the Stanley Cup this season, but have given themselves an upward climb after losing 6-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins and 0-2 on the year.
It looked really bad in Madison Square Garden at times as the Rangers struggled to get the puck out of their own zone. It also marked the first times since Mar. 31, 2011 that Henrik Lundqvist was pulled from a game in favor of Martin Biron, who made 19 saves on 20 shots faced. Lundqvist made 14 saves on 18 shots through a period and a half before being pulled with the team down 4-1.
James Neal scored two goals in the game — giving him three on the year — and Evgeni Malkin tallied three assists for the Pens.
The highlight for the Rangers: Rick Nash scored his first goal as a member of the team. In the third period with the team down 5-2, Derek Stepan stole a pass at mid ice, hit Nash streaking to his right, and the winger beat Pittsburgh goaltender Tomas Vokoun for a short-handed goal.
Ryan Callahan netted his first goal of the year for the Blueshirts on a 5-on-3 power play, and Taylor Pyatt scored his first goal as a member of the team.
The big takeaway from this game: how good Pittsburgh looked. Not only in this one, but over the weekend. The team went into Philadelphia and into New York and came away with four points while surrendering zero.
The Penguins have jumped out to be the favorites in the Eastern Conference early in the year, while the Rangers still show signs of rust.
With the shortened season, they need to right the wrong sooner rather than later.
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