Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
An all-too familiar sight during this game: Henrik Lundqvist allows a goal, this time off the stick of San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic (not seen).
SAN JOSE – The Sharks devoured the Rangers like chum Tuesday night, chasing Henrik Lundqvist from his net, and the 9-2 blowout at the SAP Center still may not have been New York’s biggest loss – even though the San Jose fans’ late chant of “We want 10!” was pretty embarrassing.
Power forward Rick Nash, who had been dominant in Monday’s 3-1 win in Los Angeles, took an elbow to the back of the head from Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart on just his second shift of the game and did not play the final two periods, evoking bad memories of last season’s hit by Bruins LW Milan Lucic that kept Nash out for four games with a concussion.
Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
One of the few bright moments for the Rangers: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Dan Boyle and Antti Niemi react as Ryan Callahan celebrates a New York goal.
Nash was visibly shaken up on the hit, and though the Rangers did not disclose his specific injury, they specified Stuart’s elbow as the cause of injury when announcing Nash would not return. Without him, the Rangers’ 2-1 deficit at Tuesday’s first intermission ballooned into 6-1 by the end of a horror-show second period, in which the Blueshirts were outshot 23-to-eight and outscored 4-0.
San Jose rookie LW Tomas Hertl scored four goals in just his third NHL game, the second hat trick in three games against the Rangers this season, including Radim Vrbata’s three goals in Thursday’s 3-1 season-opening loss in Phoenix.
The Sharks’ relentless rushes through New York’s poor defensive coverage dropped the Rangers to 1-2-0 with two games remaining on this season-opening road trip, Thursday night in Anaheim and Saturday night in St. Louis.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Tomas Hertl gets his shot past Martin Biron, who came in to replace Henrik Lundqvist.
John Moore, Arron Asham, Dominic Moore, Ryan McDonagh and Brian Boyle all found themselves unable to protect the front of their own net on the two goals that sent Lundqvist to the bench with 10:41 remaining in the second period and the score, 4-1, having stopped 22 of 26 shots faced. San Jose rattled off four goals in the pivotal four minute, 16 second span in the second period, including Hertl’s first goal that bumped Lundqvist for backup goaltender Martin Biron.
Coach Alain Vigneault opted to start Lundqvist for a third straight game to open the season, after he made 28 saves on 29 shots against the Kings on Monday, even though a back-to-back often dictates the backup starts the second night. But it didn’t matter who was in New York’s net Tuesday night, considering the team spent most of the night on its heels.
Twenty seconds after Lundqvist went to the bench, Sharks C Logan Couture hammered home a fluky bounce off the back boards past Biron to make it 5-1, and the rout continued.
New York’s lone bright spots were Brad Richards’ first period five-on-three goal, his third in two games; Derek Dorsett’s third period tally, his first as a Ranger; and Boyle’s roughing penalty in the third period going after Stuart, who had injured Nash in the first.
Nash’s injury could mean an AHL callup for J.T. Miller, who was recently sent back to Hartford, or for Chris Kreider, if Vigneault feels he deserves a second chance this early.