Rangers earn 'E' for effort, but rally stalls

February, 26, 2013
2/26/13
11:03
PM ET
Henrik LundqvistAl Bello/Getty ImagesHenrik Lundqvist allowed three second-period goals in a 4-3 loss to Winnipeg.
And so it goes for the Rangers ...

The effort was there and some good things were accomplished, particularly in a fast and frenzied third period. But the result offered little consolation, as the team fell 4-3 to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

Winless in their past four games, the Rangers dropped the first of a four-game homestand at Madison Square Garden. Both Evander Kane and ex-Ranger Olli Jokinen notched a pair of goals apiece as the Jets collected their fourth win of a confidence-boosting five-game road trip.

It was another blow to the injury-ravaged Rangers, who are now 8-8-2 on the season and 0-3-1 in their past four games (the same span they have been without star winger Rick Nash), as they try to keep morale from tumbling along with their spot in the standings.

“They gave a good effort and had some chances to tie it,” coach John Tortorella said after the game. “That’s just the way it’s going right now.”

[+] EnlargeGrant Clitsome
Scott Levy/NHLI/Getty ImagesDespite a frenzied third period, captain Ryan Callahan & Co. just couldn't catch the Jets.
Captain Ryan Callahan did his very best to ignite the Rangers in the second period with a trademark black-and-blue shift that saw the sparkplug winger courageously blocking shots, dishing out hits and hustling to clear the puck.

But it was less than a minute after that shift that the Rangers surrendered their first goal of the night -- and 67 seconds later, they were down 2-0.

Callahan cut the Jets’ lead in half, 2-1, in the second period and had a good look to knot the score at 4 with the Rangers rallying back in the third, but the Blueshirts couldn’t pull even.

“With wins, you gain confidence,” Callahan said. “Tonight we were making plays and controlling the play for most of the game. I thought our confidence was coming. Obviously, it’s been lacking the past couple of games. We’re not winning and not scoring enough, but tonight I thought it was coming.”

The Rangers carried play in a third period during which the two clubs combined for three goals in a span of 1:13, but Kane’s second goal of the night stood up as the winner at 9:37.

It’s one goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said he’s “going to think about for the next 24 hours."

“I’ve gone over it a couple of times and I’ve tried to find out a reason for why I picked it up a little late,” Lundqvist said. “It doesn’t matter; I need to stop it. For whatever reason, it squeezed through my pad and my glove.”

For a team looking for answers, the Rangers deserve credit for not taking the easy route, which is to blame their inconsistent play on the amount of injuries they’ve suffered, especially on their back end.

In addition to Nash’s absence, the Rangers played without two of their top four defensemen: Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto.

The Rangers hope to get at least one back by the time they host Tampa on Thursday but can’t afford to dwell on their missing teammates, regardless.

Currently 11th in the East, the Rangers trail the eighth-place Lightning by only one point.

“I think that if we get some people back and we have that type of effort ... I think we’ll get on our way,” Tortorella said. "We can say all the things we want to say, we just have to try to stay with it.”
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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