Despite playing one of their better all-around games in recent memory, the Rangers lost their third straight contest Friday night, falling to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 at the United Center when Chicago potted a pair of goals in a 62-second span late in the third period. It is the first time this season that the Rangers have lost three consecutive games in regulation; and their lead in the Atlantic Division now sits at four points over surging Pittsbrugh, which won in a shootout Friday against Florida.
With the game tied 1-1 in the third period, Brandon Prust beat everyone to the rebound of a Ryan McDonagh shot and deposited the puck behind Chicago goaltender Ray Emery at 7:11, giving the Rangers their second one-goal lead of the night. But Patrick Sharp scored his 26th from in front at 13:02 and Johnny Oduya followed with his third of the season---off a long slap shot---at 14:04 to quickly put the Rangers in a hole.
Patrick Kane scoreed into the empty net with 52.6 secondsleft to play in regulation before Brad Richards answered for the Rangers by jamming in his 19th goal with 40.4 seconds to play.
The Rangers had opened the scoring late in the first period, capitalizing on a Chicago turnover in its own end. John Mitchell came up with the takeaway, and he led Artem Anisimov with a soft pass, putting the Russian center all alone in front of Emery. As Anisimov skated to his right, he reached back to the left to tuck the puck past Emery for his 14th goal of the season at 19:13.
Both teams played tight defense, allowing few quality scoring chances, through the second period. But at 14:28 of the middle stanza Chicago's Andrew Shaw perfectly deflected Johnny Oduya's point shot down and between Henrik Lundqvist's pads to tie the game 1-1.
In a tightly-contested game, with both teams playing well, it seemed appropriate that after 40 minutes of play each team had 17 shots on goal and that both had recorded just one goal.
Lundqvist was extremely sharp between the pipes for the Rangers, setting the tone early on the game's first shift when he stoned Marian Hossa on a breakaway. He also was very effective throughout making saves and not allowing rebounds as the Blackhawks routinely crowded Lundqvist's net.
John Scott faced his former team for the first time since being traded to the Rangers at the trade deadline, but did not engage in any fights. The only fight in the game was a rousing affair 2:57 into the second period between Mike Rupp and Brandon Bollig.