For the fourth consecutive game, the New York Rangers had to play from behind. But for the first time in those four games (and six overall), the Blueshirts weren't able to overcome an early deficit despite a valiant effort in losing 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs (the last goal coming view an empty-netter). The loss ended the Rangers' five-game winning streak and seven-game streak on home ice.
The Rangers have played the Leafs twice this season, losing by the same score both times. But, unlike the first meeting, the Rangers did not start with a lead. Instead, it was the direct opposite as New York stood around as the Leafs skated circles around them at will. The Rangers went down 1-0 on a a Cody Franson point shot in which Henrik Lundqvist was screened, but really should've come up with the goal as it was toward the center of his body. They were outshot 12-8 in the frame.
New York has proven to be a resilient bunch and normally one that bounces back pretty quickly. But they started out just as flat in the second period as Toronto ran them all over the rink, scoring two goals in 1:37 by 6:49 of the stanza. The Rangers were down 3-0 and the game was beginning to tilt heavily away from their favor. Credit them for sticking with it, though, as Artem Anisimov fired a shot just over six minutes later and Marian Gaborik tapped in an easy cross-crease pass from Derek Stepan to make it a game again.
The end of the second period and the third period compared to the first half was literally like light and day for the Rangers. Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson picked a good time to be at his best as he faced 24 shots through the last two periods of the game, making a number of key ones with the Rangers at the doorstep and getting bodies in front. Lundqvist wasn't his best in the first 30 minutes, but he settled in, kept the Rangers in the game when he needed to, but wasn't really asked to do all that much once the Rangers found their legs.
If anything, this is a lesson for the Rangers that not playing a complete 60 minutes is not the best idea for continued success. Once they started taking the body, forechecking harder and getting pucks on net, it became a new game. There's just no excuse to come out flat on home ice and let a top-heavy and lately-inconsistent Toronto team do whatever it wanted.