What it means: A putrid start for New York allowed the Blackhawks to pounce on backup goaltender Martin Biron for four goals in the first 9:38 of play and ultimately snap a nine-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Rangers. Trailing 4-0 after the first, the Rangers and Biron rebounded over the next two periods -- Biron pitched two scoreless frames after the first -- and cut Chicago's lead in half, but couldn't complete the comeback.
Rough start: Spoiled by the staggering success of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, fans at Madison Square Garden were merciless in jeering Biron, who was shelled in his 14th start of the season. Biron gave up four goals on the first seven shots faced, and although he took the brunt of the crowd’s anger, was hardly the only one to blame. Columbus took an early 1-0 lead after Jonathan Toews beat Biron five-hole on a penalty shot, awarded after officials ruled that defenseman Dan Girardi covered the puck in the crease 1:05 into play. The Blackhawks’ Nick Leddy, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa then tacked on another trio of goals – two of them on mini-breakaways – as a cringe-worthy defensive effort left the Rangers buried 4-0 before the midway point of the first period.
Quick whistle: The Rangers were incensed after what appeared to be a blown call late in the second period. Marian Gaborik’s attempt on Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was still fluttering on the goal line when the play was prematurely whistled dead. Ryan Callahan, who made a last-ditch effort to poke the puck past, and coach John Tortorella were both livid after the play, yelling at the officiating crew for botching the call.
Step back: After an encouraging stretch of success, the Rangers' power-play reverted back to it's ailing ways against the Hawks. Heading into Thursday's match with five power-play goals in four games, the Rangers went a dreadful 0-for-7 against a weak Blackhawks penalty-killing unit that entered the game tied for 27th in the league.
Staal scores: Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, who missed the first three months of the season with post-concussion symptoms, tallied his first goal of the season to get the Rangers on the board at 3:04 of the second. Staal, who made his season debut in the 2012 Winter Classic January 2, beat a screened Crawford for his first goal in over a year.
Scouting report: Columbus Blue Jackets assistant general manager Chris MacFarland was in attendance for Thursday’s game, further fueling speculation about the Rangers’ interest in trading for Columbus captain Rick Nash. MacFarland, who politely declined to comment, was also in Boston for the Rangers’ 3-0 win against the Bruins. The Rangers, reportedly one of the handful of teams in the mix for the coveted winger, host the Blue Jackets Sunday.
Fourth straight for Feds: Ruslan Fedotenko missed his fourth straight game with an undisclosed injury, assumed to be a concussion. Fedotenko, who has not played since taking a hard, high hit from Tampa Bay’s Dominic Moore ( who was, incidentally, traded to San Jose Thursday) last Thursday. Before the game, Tortorella had no update on Fedotenko’s status.
Up Next: Rangers vs. Blue Jackets, Sunday at 8 p.m.