After ugly loss, Rangers regroup for Kings’ visit

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New York Rangers coach David Quinn conceded how poorly his team played for most of a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, and how he did not see such a sub-par performance coming.

Quinn hopes he can provide a better assessment of his team’s performance Sunday night when the Rangers host the struggling Los Angeles Kings.

New York is a respectable 7-5-0 in its last 12 games since losing three straight from Dec. 31-Jan. 4, but merely being respectable is not helping its pursuit of a playoff berth. The Rangers enter Sunday 12th in the Eastern Conference with 56 points, 11 points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild-card spot.

On Friday, the Rangers did not generate much offensively until the third period, when they had 23 of their 37 shots on goal, making for a disappointing showing after a 5-3 win over Toronto on Wednesday. The Rangers trailed 3-0 before Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider scored in the final 2:53 to make the score more respectable, but it was hardly good enough for Quinn, who gave a blunt assessment of the game.

“I’m surprised about tonight,” Quinn said. “I’m going to be honest with you. I didn’t see this coming. It’s something that I didn’t expect. At the end of the day, our top players have to be way better than they were tonight. Our top players were nowhere near what they need to be if they’re going to have a chance to win.”

One of those Quinn might have been referencing is Artemi Panarin. Panarin had an assist and leads the team with 72 points but has gone four games without a goal, one shy of his season-high.

Alexandar Georgiev started for the Rangers Friday, but rookie Igor Shesterkin will get the nod Sunday and look to continue the stellar beginning to his career. He last started Wednesday and is 4-1 with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in his first five starts, the best totals among the three goaltenders on the team.

At least the Rangers can say they are not on the downward trend the Kings are experiencing. Los Angeles is 0-3 on a four-game road trip and 1-8-1 in its last 10 games, a stretch in which has not exceeded three goals in any game.

Los Angeles started its trip by allowing a hat trick to Alexander Ovechkin in a 4-2 loss at Washington on Tuesday and then allowed the final four goals of a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Thursday. On Saturday, the Kings were blanked for the fifth time this season, despite 37 shots on goal, and allowed three goals in the second period of a 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Anze Kopitar had the best scoring chance Saturday when he was awarded a penalty shot during a power play in the second, but he was unable to score. He leads the Kings with 47 points but has two goals in his last 15 games.

“A little too much vanilla from a lot of guys, and obviously the lack of offense comes back to bite us,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We are desperately searching for some help offensively.”

Los Angeles has won the last four meetings since Dec. 21, 2018. The Kings posted a 3-1 home win over New York on Dec. 10 when Quick made 29 saves.

–Field Level Media

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