One bright spot for the New York Rangers on Thursday night was the second period power-play goal scored by Marc Staal. The crisp passing from end to end that led to the goal was definitely not something seen from the team last year. At least, briefly, it seemed we saw a glimpse of what an Alain Vigneault offense could bring. This was an especially huge goal given the injury sustained by Staal last season. Seeing Staal, with his visor on, jumping into offensive mode and capitalizing as he did, certainly gives hope for this season to be great for a player whose career was called into question because of his eye injury.
But, unfortunately, it was the only bright spot - and the only goal for the night - for the Rangers in Phoenix, as the Coyotes defeated the Rangers 4-1.
Just 3:36 into the game, Phoenix's Kyle Chipchura put a wrist shot past the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist. In the second period, Coyotes blueliner David Schlemko was called for interference. Soon after, Staal's goal tied the game. Rick Nash and recently signed Derek Stepan assisted on the goal. Unfortunately, the goal didn't generate the kind of momentum the Rangers needed to take over the game. Instead, the Coyotes put forth a determined effort in the second frame, taking the lead back on a Radim Vrbata goal less than four minutes later. By the end of the period, Phoenix had the edge in shots 24-17, but 16 of the Coyotes' shots came in the second.
Vrbata wasn't finished either. The winger would score his second of the game, just eight seconds after Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi picked up a roughing penalty. Then at 7:23 of the third, a little over six minutes after he extended his team's lead, Vrbata and his line would grind their way to hitting the twine again. For Vrbata, it was his fifth career hat trick.
Before the end of the game, two Rangers would drop the gloves. With less than seven minutes to go, Derek Dorsett faced off against Coyotes forward Chris Brown. Then, after seeing linemate Derek Stepan take a hard high hit near the boards, Rick Nash would go toe to toe against Martin Hanzal.
The fights didn't change the result, of course. Coyotes netminder Mike Smith had a strong performance with 23 saves. Meanwhile, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28 shots for the Rangers. It's also worth noting the Ranger with the most shots on goal Thursday night - Brad Richards. The embattled forward accounted for four of the team's 24 shots. Richards started the game on the top line with Nash and Stepan, but he played the wing.
The Rangers next attempt at the win column will be on Monday night, when the team goes to Los Angeles to face Jonathan Quick and the Kings.