The curse that seems to have struck New York teams in blue this fall followed the New York Rangers to Canada.
The Blueshirts made up a 5-1 deficit, but three third period goals finally buried them, and the Rangers now sit at 0-2-0 after falling 8-5 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
The Rangers had some momentum via great chances from their opener two nights earlier against Colorado, but that failed to translate in the early stages of their Toronto visit. Ex-Ranger Dominic Moore opened the scoring in the opening minutes to begin the heartbreak ordeal. JT Miller managed to know the score up shortly after, but the Leafs (2-0-0) put the rout on shortly after.
Zach Hyman put in his first two goals of season, sandwich a four goal Toronto explosion. Jake Gardiner scored on a power play, while Nikita Zaitsev also put in his first of the year, The Rangers did manage to slightly narrow the gap with a power play goal by Kevin Shattenkirk, his first as a Ranger. The Maple Leaf rally was indeed enough to chase Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled after allowing five goals on 16 shots.
With Ondrej Pavelec in to make his New York debut, the Rangers began their comeback. Mika Zibanejad added his third power play of the season to kick things off, before Marc Staal added his first goal in 46 games, dating back to December of last season to make it 5-4. Staal would later help the Rangers come all the way back when Mats Zuccarello tapped in the defenseman’s slap shot to retie the game.
The third period, however, spelt disaster for New York.
Tyler Bozak put in his first goal of the season, scoring what became the game winner as the Leafs went up 6-5. That was only the beginning of the Rangers’ collapse, as Alain Vigneault’s failed offsides challenge led to a Toronto power play. The Rangers were able to kill that one off, but a Kevin Hayes slash led to another two-minute minor, and Leo Komarov took advantage with a goal that made it 7-5. The Leafs took advantage of one last Rangers penalty, as Nazem Kadri put the last one of the night in while Ryan McDonagh was serving time for hooking.
Pavelec, who was originally slated to start the Rangers’ next game, made 21 saves on 24 opportunities in his Rangers debut. Zuccarello led the way with three assists, while Chris Kreider added two more.
The Rangers will return home tomorrow night, taking on the Montreal Canadiens to wrap up their first back-to-back set of the year (7:00, MSG).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490