Rangers, Canucks on opposite streaks
NEW YORK — The New York Rangers can't lose. The Vancouver Canucks can't win.
On Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, nothing has to give.
The Rangers have won five in a row, scoring at least five goals in each victory. As was the case in many of their victories this season, the Rangers (10-3-0) won with balance Sunday, as five players scored in a 5-2 victory against the Winnipeg Jets.
One of those goal-scorers was rookie Pavel Buchnevich, who scored artfully on a breakaway for his second goal of the season. The third-round pick found the going tough to start the season but is showing signs of getting comfortable, which potentially means another dangerous scorer for the NHL's top offensive team.
“He's just getting more and more comfortable with everything,” Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said to the New York Daily News. “Coming here from Russia, it's a big change culture-wise and language and the way we play the game. So he's just getting more comfortable. He's going to be a great player here. Fun to watch him play, too.”
As weird as it sounds, the Rangers didn't feel great after their latest five-goal performance. The game was tied 2-2 midway through the second period before the Rangers blitzed the Jets for three quick goals, then held on tight during the third period and didn't muster a shot on net.
That is becoming normal for the Rangers — scoring five goals, winning by three and not feeling as if they played well.
“We definitely have got to be careful of starting to cheat and getting away from the way we want to play,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal told the Daily News on Sunday. “I thought for stretches last night and tonight we started stretching the zone a little bit and started looking for things that weren't there. So as a group we've got to make sure we buckle back down, start playing the way we need to play defensively to create those opportunities in the right way.”
The Canucks, meanwhile, are in a tailspin that has no signs of ending.
After starting 4-0-0, Vancouver has lost nine consecutive games, including a 4-2 defeat to the New York Islanders on Monday night. So not only are the Canucks playing some of the worst hockey in the NHL, but they get to play a Rangers team that has been off since Sunday.
The Canucks held a brief early lead against the Islanders and were tied at 2 in the third period before the Islanders struck for two goals in less than two minutes to put the game away.
“First two periods, we played good hockey,” Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller said. “Then they get weird bounces and take the game. It's frustrating right now.”
The Canucks (4-8-1) are 0-8-1 in their past nine games. The last time they lost 10 in a row was from Oct. 23-Nov. 11, 1997, so it is almost the 18-year anniversary of their futility.
“Three of their goals, our guys go to block them and they end up in favorable situations,” Miller said to the Vancouver Sun. “We have to find ways to rise up when games unfold that way.”
The way the Rangers are playing lately, overcoming bounces and a superior opponent won't be easy.