East coast. West Coast. Ivory Coast. It doesnt matter where the Rangers play these days, the result is always the same. The Rangers started their three game road trip with a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, and extended their losing streak to five games.
With just under seven minutes gone by in the game, Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker scored 46 seconds apart to give the Phoenix Coyotes an early 2-0 lead. Then, on Phoenix’s seventh shot of the game, Sami Lepisto rifled a shot from the point right past a startled Chad Johnson, who was filling in for Henrik Lundqvist. The goal, scored at 14:13 added to the Coyote’s lead and that was all they would need to beat the slumping Rangers.
Lundqvist sat out the game due to an undisclosed illness and watched the first period from the Ranger’s bench. After the first period, Johnson settled down and stopped 17 straight shots, including a save on former ranger Petr Prucha. Johnson went down to make a pad save on Prucha’s shot when somehow the puck trickled down near the goal post. He managed to stick his skate out and push it away before Prucha was able to tap it in.
The Rangers desperate attempt to mount a comeback started in the second period when they came out on fire and generated some scoring chances. Despite being held scoreless in the second, Marian Gaborik was able to break through in the third when he and Erik Christensen went 2-on-1 to beat Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera. Gaborik drew LaBarbera to his right of the goal with a pass to Christensen, leaving the left side of the net open. Christensen quickly passed back to Gaborik who scored easily for his 30th goal of the season. It was also the first road goal the Rangers scored in over 200 minutes of hockey, the last dating to January 16 in St. Louis.
Sean Avery cut the deficit to one goal when he blasted a wrist shot past LaBarbera at 11:50. Brandon Dubinsky pushed the puck out to the neutral zone and Avery rushed up to get control of it. Skating from his own defensive end, he rushed up ice and beat LaBarbera for his sixth goal of the season.
"I thought we battled back and made a game of it," said Tortorella. "So we’ll continue to try and grind through it."
With less than two minutes remaining, the Rangers found themselves shorthanded and came within an inch of tying the game. A shot by Vinny Prospal was saved by LaBarbera, but Ryan Callahan came in front and tried to deflect the puck in the net. It bounced up and Gaborik took a baseball swing at it and it hit the goal post.
"That’s the way it goes right now, I guess," said Gaborik. "We just have to battle through it."
The Rangers road trip continues tomorrow night in Colorado against the Avalanche who have lost their last two games.