CALGARY, Alberta — The Rangers were off on Thursday and still added to their league lead — in apologies received — in the fallout from Wednesday’s loss to the Canucks.
Brendan Lemieux will not face supplemental discipline for his alleged hit to the head major penalty and game misconduct, which was later changed to a match penalty — opening the door to a suspension, though the Rangers did not believe it warranted a penalty at all, much less an ejection.
Lemieux won’t get the call rescinded as Mika Zibanejad did last week in Dallas for his game misconduct — because match penalties do not accumulate — though it hardly would have softened the blow from getting tossed from the game at 9:45 of the second period.
“An apology? We already got one,” coach David Quinn said after the loss, though it was unclear what he was referring to.
Chris Kreider, meanwhile, was fined $5,000, the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement, for his elbow to the face of Elias Pettersson that resulted in a major penalty and game misconduct at 4:23 of the second period.
The Canucks’ Antoine Roussel lies on the ice after his collision with Brendan Lemieux.AP
The controversial call on Lemieux came just after the Rangers finished killing off Kreider’s penalty, when Antoine Roussel tried to put a shot on net and began to fall over. He collided with Lemieux, who braced himself for the crash with his arm serving as the landing spot for Roussel’s shoulder and head. Unless the referees wanted Lemieux to catch Roussel and gently lay him down on the ice, it was not clear what else he could have done to avoid contact with the Canuck.
While Quinn was visibly irritated after another game marred by a questionable call, he became just as tired of his own team’s mistakes. The Rangers, who will take on the Flames on Friday night at Scotiabank Saddledome, allowed just one goal during the 10 minutes of penalties they had to kill off after Kreider and Lemieux’s ejections. Instead they allowed the Canucks to take command on a pair of even-strength goals from Tyler Motte in a span of 11 seconds.
Brendan LemieuxNHLI via Getty Images
Motte’s first goal came when he slipped behind Neal Pionk to take a long pass at the blue line and enter the offensive zone alone, finishing off the breakaway mostly uncontested. Before that goal could be announced, Kevin Shattenkirk turned the puck over behind the end line and after Henrik Lundqvist made the initial save, Motte ripped the loose puck through for the 3-0 lead.
“We gave them two goals, complete gifts,” Quinn said, his voice rising. “The second and third goals are complete gifts. Then we get a five-on-three and we don’t even get a threatening shot. So we can talk about the penalties all we want, but the things we have to get better at and we have to stop doing are things of that nature. You can’t gift-wrap goals. You gotta make people earn them. And when you get a five-on-three, you gotta look threatening. You can’t do what we did.”
The five-on-three came in the third period and lasted 1:33, though it was hardly evident on the ice that the Rangers did, in fact, have an advantage. They did not get off a single shot on net. The one shot they took, from Vladislav Namestnikov, was blocked.
“We were so slow and unsure of what we were going to do and it wasn’t working,” Zibanejad said. “We’ve been struggling on the five-on-three. Just have to work on it and get better at it.”