ST. LOUIS – The New York Rangers have lost eight of nine, scoring two or fewer goals in each loss. The strain seems to be getting to Henrik Lundqvist.
After giving up the go-ahead goal on a rebound to B.J. Crombeen with 5:14 to play in Monday’s 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, Lundqvist said the confidence of the players is fragile.
“You see when they score a goal, we totally lose our composure and start running around,” Lundqvist said. “It takes a lot for us to bounce back from a goal because everybody gets so tight.”
Lauri Korpikoski had the lone goal for the Rangers, who are 0-6-1 in their last seven on the road. This time they fell to a franchise whose rebuilding job is led by team president John Davidson, a longtime Rangers broadcaster and former goalie.
“He’s one of the best,” Rangers forward Scott Gomez said. “Since Day 1 when I came into the league, he’s treated me like gold.”
Chris Mason made 19 saves and Carlo Colaiacovo also scored for the Blues, 4-1-2 in their last seven games while trying to inch into playoff contention. They’ve been in last place in the Western Conference much of the season, but were tied for 13th and six points out of the post-season.
“It doesn’t take much to figure out it’s going to be a tough road and we’re going to have to play really well,” Crombeen said. “But we believe we can do it and it’s showing in our play.”
Lundqvist had 31 saves a day after yanked in the second period of a loss at Philadelphia. But the Rangers were 0-for-3 on the power play after coach Tom Renney juggled the lineup, and are in a 1-for-34 slump overall with the man advantage.
“We got four power-play shots, which might not sound like a lot,” Renney said. “But for us, that’s an accomplishment. We had traffic, the shots were intelligent shots, so what we’re doing right now is trying to rebuild our foundation if you will.”
The Blues outshot the Rangers 14-4 in the third period, and Mason had a fairly easy night overall.
“The second half of the game, I thought we just totally dominated,” Mason said. “We didn’t give them anything in the third period, especially.”
Crombeen had been scoreless for 16 games before beating Lundqvist for his 10th goal. Lundqvist had to go down to stop a drive by Barret Jackman, and Crombeen skated around the fallen goalie before roofing the puck.
“I thought if I took a quick whack at it, he’d be probably putting his second effort in, flopping all over, and I didn’t want to risk shooting right into him,” Crombeen said. “So I tried to just wait an extra second and put it over him.”
Renney called timeout midway through the second period. It immediately backfired when Colaiacovo roofed a shot from the point off a faceoff, only two seconds after play resumed, to put the Blues ahead at 10:27 of the second. Andy McDonald beat Chris Drury on the faceoff to set up Colaiacovo’s third goal of the season.
Korpikoski tied it at 16:47, whirling around near the left side of the net and beating Mason with a quick shot off a setup from Ryan Callahan. Korpikoski has three goals and an assist in the last four games.
Notes: Rangers D Paul Mara was scratched after injuring his right shoulder in a third-period fight with the Flyers’ Arron Asham on Sunday. … Blues D Jay McKee was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. … McDonald has a goal and three assists in four games since returning from a broken left ankle. … Drury has been limited to three assists the last 12 games, while Gomez has no goals and five assists the last nine games, although he had an assist against the Blues.