Any jubilation the Toronto Maple Leafs might have felt after winning the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic earlier in the week was gone long before the final buzzer Saturday night. So was any frustration the New York Rangers might have felt after a poor effort 24 hours earlier.
Toronto returned home after winning the NHL's signature regular-season game New Year's Day but was dominated in a 7-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre. Dominic Moore scored twice and Cam Talbot stopped 25 shots for New York, which rebounded with its biggest offensive night of the season after a 5-2 road loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
"We did a much better job in our own end than last night," Moore said. "We had the puck much more, and that has to be staple of our game."
The Rangers finished 3-2-0 record on a five-game post-Christmas trip. They go home to play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
"It was huge for us," Talbot said of the bounce-back win. "We had to finish strong. We came out flying tonight. The guys got the first goal and never looked back. We played sound defensively as well. Tonight we took care of both ends [of the ice], and that's why we got the result we did."
The Rangers led 5-0 and knocked starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier from the game before the Maple Leafs finally got on the scoreboard late in the second period on a goal by Joffrey Lupul. New York added third-period goals by Brad Richards and Brian Boyle, and finished with a 50-26 margin in shots on goal and an 85-53 margin in attempts. Every Rangers skater had at least one shot on goal; 15 had at least one point.
Talbot started after Henrik Lundqvist allowed five goals in the loss to the Penguins the night before.
"The guys played great in front of me," he said after winning for the ninth time in 12 decisions. "Scoring the first goal and getting the lead was important."
New York is 2-0-0 against Toronto this season. The Rangers are 6-1-0 in the past seven games between the teams and 5-1-0 in their past six visits to Air Canada Centre, where the full house vented its unhappiness with the home team early and often.
"We’re getting booed off the ice in the first period, second period and the end of the game, and we deserved it," Lupul said after a closed-door meeting. "We were not good in any aspect. We don't feel very good about ourselves right now."
After the loss in Pittsburgh 24 hours earlier, New York came out flying from the opening faceoff. The Rangers tested Bernier on the first shift when Chris Kreider blew past the defense and came in alone. Kreider swept across the top of the crease, but Bernier laid out to stop his shot.
The Rangers continued to carry the play and were rewarded at 6:57, when Dan Girardi's right-point wrister floated through traffic before Carl Hagelin tipped it past Bernier for a 1-0 lead. Hagelin's 10th of the season came on the return rush after Talbot denied Peter Holland on a wide-open rebound attempt.
Bernier made a handful of good stops to keep the lead at one goal, but the Rangers continued to win puck battles all over the ice and took advantage of a misplay by the goaltender to make it 2-0 at 15:57. Moore carried down the left side and took a bad-angle shot from the left circle that slid through Bernier's five-hole into the net.
The period finished with the Rangers leading 2-0 on the scoreboard, 18-7 in shots on goal and 34-13 in attempted shots.
"I was surprised," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "I expected a lot more from this group."
New York continued to dominate play in the second period, and that paid off in a third goal at 10:39. With Mats Zuccarello going to the net and occupying two defenders, Marc Staal fed a wide-open Benoit Pouliot for an easy slam-dunk past a defenseless Bernier.
"I think you might start out flat for a period, but that you'd be able to get your legs back under you, get your game going and be more competitive," Carlyle said when asked if his team came out with any Winter Classic hangover. "That third goal; that was the hockey game."
Kreider made it 4-0 exactly four minutes later when he succeeded on almost the same play on which he failed to capitalize in the first period. The forward blew past Cody Franson down the left side, cut in front and went forehand-to-backhand before sliding the puck past Bernier for his 11th.
Moore ended Bernier's night at 16:35 with his second unassisted goal of the game. He strolled down the right side, cut past defenseman Jake Gardiner on his way to the net, and beat Bernier high to the far side for his third goal of the season.
"I know the guys were ready last night and turned the page on it, analyzed it, we got ready, the guys came out, moved the puck well, got some good opportunities and we were able to finish a couple," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
James Reimer replaced Bernier, who made 27 saves, and Lupul ended Talbot's shutout bid 67 seconds later when he zipped a shot from near the right faceoff dot that caught the top corner on the short side for his 12th of the season.
Richards added a goal 9:03 into the third period, and Boyle tipped home Michael Del Zotto's power-play shot with 3:56 remaining.
"I just look at tonight, you could go forwards, defense, you could go to our whole group, and we didn't have the competitive edge that's required to have success," Carlyle said. "Everything that I say is going to be an excuse, so I'm not here to make an excuse for anybody."
Toronto lost forward David Clarkson to a left-foot injury after he got hit with a shot from Del Zotto, and defenseman Jonas Gunnarsson to an upper-body injury following a hit from Hagelin.
Material from team media was used in this report