MONTREAL — The hope was that a full lineup would provide a clearer visual of what the Rangers really look like with their newest addition, Patrick Kane, but it only revealed just how much work they still have to do as a team.
Facing a Canadiens team that is in last place in the Atlantic Division and well out of the playoff picture, the Rangers barely escaped with two points after Mika Zibanejad was the lone goal scorer in the shootout, which secured a 4-3 win Thursday night at Bell Centre.
The list of excuses has quickly dwindled for the Rangers.
Sure, they’re still without Ryan Lindgren, whose absence proves time and time again that the Rangers are not the same team without him.
And Tyler Motte is still unavailable with an apparent head injury, leaving the fourth line without one of its speediest and peskiest members.
They were also away from game action for four days, so that could’ve played into some of their lapses, too.
Between their poor transition game, their looseness in the defensive zone and Igor Shesterkin’s lingering inability to come up with that unexpected save like last season, however, the Rangers have a number of areas to focus on that Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko cannot act as a bandaid for.
Shesterkin, who finished with 23 saves, did come up big in the third period and overtime.
He also made the last big stop on Alex Belzile in the shootout to help secure the Rangers victory.
Still, this matchup with the Canadiens was a competitive one.
Overlooking the fact that Montreal is without a few of its top players, the Rangers were able to answer each Habs goal with one of their own through the first two periods.
The Canadiens took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but Jacob Trouba scored 48 seconds into the middle frame after the Rangers captain was allowed to skate into the right faceoff circle uncontested and wrist the puck past Montreal’s netminder Sam Montembeault.
Momentum should’ve swung further in the Rangers favor when Rem Pitlick was called for delay of game later in the period.
Instead, Kane mishandled the puck on the power play and sent the Habs the other way before Josh Anderson buried a shorthanded breakaway goal.
The newest Ranger, however, made up for it just over a minute later.
Sniping the puck from the top of the left faceoff circle, Kane knotted the game at three-all and subsequently let out an emphatic fist pump.
Kane had an eventful third game with the Blueshirts, recording an assist on Trouba’s 2-2 score in addition to his own goal.
He also took a slashing penalty late in the final frame that could’ve been detrimental.
The Rangers may have had a full complement of 18 skaters for the first time since Feb. 25, but it didn’t make the immediate impact on their overall play the way it was supposed to.
Even with K’Andre Miller back on defense, after the 23-year-old blueliner was suspended for three games, the Rangers defensive structure was full of holes and backdoor opportunities — as it has been the last couple weeks.
That much was evident right off the bat.
The Canadiens scored 35 seconds into the game when player after player cycled through the Rangers zone before Kaiden Guhle batted the puck past Shesterkin.
By: Ny Post