It all looked great for the New York Rangers. 2-0 lead, late in the third period, when John Mitchell of the Maple Leafs notched his first NHL goal at 12:36 of the third period.
That's all it took for a hard working team like Toronto to rally back and make a fool out of the New York Rangers.
About five and a half minutes later, the Rangers are looking up at the scoreboard in the Air Canada Centre, embarrassed at the horror of hockey they just played.
Five goals in just 5:21 for the leafs, some lazy defensive zone play, and some sub par goal—tending from Steve Valiquette are what the fans can attribute to the collapse and the loss of what the team felt like would be an easy two points.
The Rangers got off to a penalty filled first period, taking three early penalties, and hurting their chances of a fast start. But with ten seconds left, Ryan Callahan netted a goal off a great pass from Toronto area native Dan Girardi which gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead to start the second period.
The Rangers played a good second period, and were rewarded when Blair Betts notched his second goal of the season (matching his total from last year) with an easy stuff in, off of a great shift from the fourth line.
Despite the end result, the fourth line did play a good game, as they were the only forwards who had a plus rating in the game.
The third period would prove to be the destruction of the Rangers in this game. John Mitchell's first career goal started a five goal streak that shocked the Rangers.
Jason Blake just tipped a Dominic Moore shot enough to throw Steve Valiquette off the puck.
Pavel Kubina's slap shot beat Valiquette to give Toronto the lead, and just over a minute later, John Mitchell's second goal of the game, and of his career, made it 4-2.
Valiquette's risky play caught him way out of the net, giving Dominic Moore an easy shot at the open net to ice the game at 5-2 and give the Rangers their third regulation loss of the season, making them 10-3-1.
Sounds pretty depressing doesn't it? Such a catastophe to end the game, to show so little heart.
Your first reaction might be to scream "FIRE RENNEY! TRADE EVERYONE! REBUILD!"
If that is your reaction, look at last season to recognize that it might actually help them out long term.
Last year, the Rangers held a 5-0 lead against the Montreal Canadiens. Every Ranger fan was going absolutely crazy, as if the season were over at that point. Long term though, the lessons learned in that game might have saved the season.
They followed that god awful mess of a game by going 7-0-1 in their next eight games, and 12-3-5 to finish out the season from that game until the end of the regular season.
Heading into tonights game, the Rangers were 10-2-1. Having won four straight games, and leading the NHL with 21 points, they sure felt on top of the world. The team had been playing great hockey, they had battled through tough games and came out ahead, and they held a 2-0 lead late in the game.
Blowing this lead though, like last year, might be the one thing to bring them down to earth. While it hurts to think about this game now, it will eventually be an after thought, and the Rangers will pick up right where they left off before this game.
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