Slumping Rangers open homestand against Canucks
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The New York Rangers raced out of the gate with 10 goals in two wins to start the season. Since then the goals are coming less frequently, and the result is a three-game losing streak.
After three straight losses by three-goal margins, the Rangers hope to end the skid Sunday afternoon when they host the Vancouver Canucks.
The Rangers are starting a five-game homestand and a stretch of nine out of 11 games at home.
In their last home game on Oct. 12, the Rangers were dominated in the third period of a 4-1 loss to Edmonton. They followed it with consecutive 5-2 losses on a back-to-back at New Jersey and Washington.
Unlike the first two games of the slide, the Rangers never held a lead and coach David Quinn did not mince words in his assessment of Friday's outcome against the Capitals.
"We just weren't mentally sharp at all," Quinn said. "We lost our way. There was a lot of purposeless hockey tonight."
The lack of sharpness led to the Rangers allowing two power-play goals, making it four allowed during the slump that followed a 6-4 win over Winnipeg on Oct. 3 and a 4-1 victory in Ottawa on Oct. 5.
Artemi Panarin scored Friday while playing with a new linemate in Chris Kreider alongside Mika Zibanejad, who has four goals and 10 points. Pavel Buchnevich was moved down to the second line after scoring a power-play goal, and it is possible the Rangers could start Sunday's game with those line combinations.
"We have a lot of very capable players and those two are incredible," said Kreider, who has yet to score and has three assists. "I just try to skate and win pucks for them and get to the front of the net."
Vancouver will be playing its second straight afternoon game. The Canucks were blanked for the second time this season and held to 25 shots in a 1-0 loss at New Jersey on Saturday. They had 23 shots blocked.
"Had some looks; gotta get a goal," Vancouver coach Travis Green said.
Before Saturday, the Canucks had scored 20 goals in winning four straight games. Against the Devils, Vancouver went 0-for-7 on the power play after going 4-for-14 on the man advantage in the previous four games.
"Five on five we didn't (do) a whole lot, pretty good road game," Green said. "We got to find a way to score a couple of goals."
Green tried different things with a struggling power play, including putting Quinn Hughes on the man advantage at various points. Hughes played against his younger brother Jack, who scored for New Jersey and had his family in the stands.
"We need some finish on our power play, we're getting good looks and need to score," Vancouver center Bo Horvat said.
Besides getting the power play going, the Canucks are hoping to see more aggressiveness from Elias Pettersson. Pettersson has two goals and four assists but only 11 shots on goal and missed a chance at scoring during a 4-on-4 in the third period Saturday.
Starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom rejoined the Canucks after being away from the team due to a family matter. Thatcher Demko started Saturday but Markstrom is expected to play Sunday.
The Rangers are 10-3-1 in their last 14 games against the Canucks.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 19, 2019