The New York Rangers went outdoor for some fresh air to open 2018, and apparently forgot to come back in.
Patrick Sharp’s goal early in the third period snapped a 2-2 tie, giving the Chicago Blackhawks a lead they’d never relinquish, as a pair of empty net goals would help ensure a 5-2 victory on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. With the win, the Blackhawks picked up their first season sweep of the Rangers since the 2011-12 season.
The Rangers (21-14-5) played in their first game since Monday’s Winter Classic, and it appeared to take them a little while to get their indoor leggings back. Through two periods, the Rangers were outshot 26-14, though they at least were able to keep things tied thanks to a goal in each period. Forced to respond to Chicago (19-14-6) goals each time, Nick Holden scored from the blue line exactly two minutes after Vinnie Hinostroza scored the first goal of the game. In the middle frame, Nick Schmaltz’s eighth goal of the season was countered by a Mika Zibanejad score, tallied during a 5-on-3 power play.
— NHL (@NHL) January 4, 2018
In the interim, some clutch saves by Henrik Lundqvist, helped keep the Rangers within striking distance. Alas for New York, some showstopping blocks went for naught.
Sharp’s top shelf goal set the pace in the period for the Blackhawks, who likewise went on to enjoy some clutch stops from reserve goalie Jeff Glass. The Rangers would outshoot Chicago 11-9 in the period, and also get another power play when the Blackhawks put too many men on the ice, but Glass’s stops preserved the Chicago lead. Overall, the Rangers went a mere 1-for-6 on the power play.
You're not hallucinating. This isn't a highlight from 2011. This is a real 2018 Patrick Sharp goal. pic.twitter.com/keJ6ze8oUF
— Brian Foran (@BForanNHL) January 4, 2018
The vacant net tallies were put in by Jonathan Towes and Patrick Kane.
The Rangers now embark on a Western road trip, opening a weekend back-to-back with the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night (8:00 PM, MSG).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490