In the midst of the Tony DeAngelo saga, the Rangers got back to work Sunday trying to put an end to their third-period woes.
Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Penguins marked the fourth time in the last five games that the Rangers had entered the third period with a one-goal lead, but they only have one win to show for it in that stretch.
“We can sit here and feel sorry for ourselves and feel bad for the situation, result-wise and everything,” center Mika Zibanejad said as the Rangers prepared to host the Penguins on Monday night back at the Garden. “But at the end of the day, we just gotta keep going.”
Defenseman Jacob Trouba said Saturday night the Rangers were conscious of their third-period struggles and didn’t want that to creep into their heads on the ice. But it may already be happening.
“I want to say no, but obviously [if] we win a couple of those, you get a little bit more confident going into those third periods,” Zibanejad said.
Chris Krieder laid out the Rangers’ issues in plain view after the loss, pointing to their inability to stick to a north-south game and keep getting pucks behind the opposing defense in the third period. Zibanejad was unsure of why the Rangers were getting away from that style late in games.
“I don’t know if we try to protect the lead in a defensive way or I don’t know how I would put it,” he said. “But we just gotta keep playing. The thing this team does so well is pressuring the puck skating. Part of it is obviously playing north hockey. I feel like we kind of stray away from that a little bit. That’s something we have to have confidence in, believing in what we’re doing so well.”
Colin Blackwell, who had gone from the taxi squad to second-line right wing with three points in three games, will be out for 7-10 days after sustaining an upper-body injury Saturday night.
In his absence Sunday, Kaapo Kakko skated with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome on the second line while Julien Gauthier took Kakko’s spot on the third line with Chris Kreider and Brett Howden.
Defenseman Jack Johnson, who has missed two straight games with a groin strain, did not practice and remains day-to-day.