I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat a loss because of a bad call at the end of the game, so don't allow the title of tonight's postgame fool you. But the New York Rangers rightfully tied the New Jersey Devils in the third period, 1-1, with just 3 seconds remaining on the clock this evening, however they were robbed of that goal because of poor judgment by the officials. The Blueshirts certainly weren't their best this evening, but still, they worked hard to find that tying goal, which should've counted, and had it stripped from them by the refs. Nothing frustrates me more than when a close game is not decided by the players, but rather the officials, and it happens far too often in the NHL today.
The game began with two fights right off the opening faceoff, as Mike Rupp dropped the gloves with Cam Janssen and Brandon Prust squared off with Eric Boulton on the opposite wing. Both lasted a while, but neither contained any heavy punching that you would expect when those four are engaged in fisticuffs. In the end of it, though, the Devils gained the momentum from these bouts, as they completely dominated play from that point on in the first period. Henrik Lundqvist had to be very strong between the pipes for New York, which he was, but he was doing so without much help from his teammates.
Eventually, while on the powerplay, forward Zach Parise made a strong play out of the corner to feed David Clarkson in the slot, who one-timed the pass over the shoulder of Lundqvist to give the Devils a 1-0 advantage. What makes this play so aggravating is that it easily could have been prevented. Derek Stepan was beat bad in the corner by Parise, which you don't see often with Step, and then Dan Girardi was caught with "dead feet" as I like to call them, as he stood and watched the pass go to Clarkson for the goal. That's two players each missing an assignment. In a game that you are already being dominated, that's never a good thing.
The club's poor play caused head coach John Tortorella to lose his cool on the bench during a television timeout, and with the way the team was skating (well, not skating actually), I probably would've done the same in that position, and probably much earlier as well. There are no excuses for a lackluster effort in a rivalry game on home ice - the Rangers deserved every word of that explosion.
From there they ultimately would find their legs and start to generate scoring chances, but they were just unable to find the back of the net. As reluctant as I am to do this, I must give Marty Brodeur some credit because he did play very well in the second half of the game when the Rangers brought the heat, especially in the third period. He finished the night with 30 saves and earned himself the first star without a doubt.
However, maybe if the Rangers would actually construct a functioning powerplay, they wouldn't be getting shutout like this at home. New York had two powerplays in the first period, and then another in the third, but neither of which they were able to take advantage of. Night in and night out they are posting goose eggs with the man advantage, yet nothing is changing. Tortorella says he sees improvement, but to be honest, there is no improvement made until I see the puck cross the goal line. This is getting ridiculous.
Finally, before the game came to a conclusion, there was the infamous play that had Ranger fans going bonkers. With just three seconds left on the clock, the Rangers had seemingly tied the game when Artem Anisimov buried a loose puck through a scrum in Marty Brodeur's crease. However, the goal would not be counted, as goaltender interference would be ruled on the play. I've watched the event over and over again now, and each time it becomes more and more obvious to me that there was no goalie interference on this play, at least due to the fault of a Ranger player.
First of all, Marian Gaborik was applying the brakes all the way into the net. He saw that the puck was headed towards the goal and was crashing hard for a rebound, but was in the process of stopping before hitting the crease. Though, Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov shoved Gaborik into Marty Brodeur, and Marty being the wise veteran that he is, felt the smallest of contact and fell backward into his net. While this was happening, Anisimov found the loose puck and pushed it in to tie the game at 1.
Now, you can totally ignore Brodeur's selling of the call, because it is irrelevant when you look at what caused the contact in the first place. Volchenkov clearly shoved Gaborik into the crease, as there is no other way Marian would have suddenly been given a boost while stopping. In my opinion, if you cannot make the correct call there, you should not be an official in the National Hockey League. That was just embarrassing.
Tortorella was furious on the bench after the play, as he should've been, but refused to comment on it in his postgame presser. He's paid enough money to the league for comments in the media this year, so I'm sure he was preventing himself from being in that situation again. But in his mind, he obviously feels that the goal should've counted.
Also, Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist also both feel as if the Rangers should've legally tied the game on that play. Gaborik especially, since he was the one that was shoved into the net to cause the goalie interference in the first place. And Hank, when asked is he thought it was goalie interference or not, responded by saying "it is when the goalie sells it." So there are two reasons why the refs made the wrong call on that play.
The Rangers were robbed of at least a point tonight, plain and simple, and it is all because of a foolish decision made the officials. It's frustrating, I know, but now that we've let the steam out it is time to move on and look ahead. Dwelling on this will only make it worse, and I'm sure the league will realize that they made the wrong call upon further review.
New York's next game will be on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning at MSG. Hopefully they'll get off to a better start in that one and not have the entire game relying on a buzzer beater.