Hoping to leave the Traverse City Prospects Tournament on a high note, the Rangers prospects were forced to settle for sixth place in the eight-team field on Wednesday when they fell 4-2 to St. Louis in their final game.
|Rangers goaltender Antoine Lafleur stopped 20 shots for the Blueshirts in the team's final game in Traverse City, Mich. |
After breaking out to a 2-1 lead on a pair of second-period goals by 2008 draftee Dale Weise
, the Rangers gave up three unanswered goals in the second and third periods to finish the tournament with a 1-3-0 record.
The chippy game featured several scuffles, and emotions boiled over in the final period.
No bounces seemed to go the Rangers' way on Wednesday, as three of the St. Louis goals went in off Blueshirts' players skates or sticks. The bad luck was a far cry from a year ago, when the Rangers won the tournament's gold medal.
Defenseman Jonas Junland began the comeback for St. Louis on a late second-period power play when he scored on a shot from the point that might have been deflected. Junland's goal tied the game at 2-2 after 40 minutes, even though the Rangers had outshot the Blues by a wide 25-17 margin to that point in the game.
The eventual game-winner came just 15 seconds into the third period, when St. Louis' T.J. Oshie, the team's first-round pick in 2005, sent a centering pass that deflected off a Rangers defenseman's skate and off the far post past goaltender Antoine Lafleur
to make it 3-2.
Patrick Berglund, a 2006 first-round pick, stretched the lead to 4-2 late int he third period, when he sent a sharp wrister behind Lafleur for an unassisted tally. The goal was Berglund's second of the game.
The Rangers had one last chance to tie the game when they drew a power play for the final 37 seconds of the third period. With Lafleur pulled for an extra attacker, the Rangers put heavy pressure on goaltender Jake Allen but could not break through. It was one of two third-period power plays the Blueshirts were unable to convert.
Allen finished the night with 34 saves, enabling his team to escape with a win despite being outshot 36-24.
The third period featured a number of sites, beginning with one at the seven-minute mark that saw Rangers defenseman David Urquhart
square off with a much bigger Matt McCue, who had far more experience with fighting than Urquhart.
The McCue-Urquhart fight led to more fisticuffs. At the 9:28 mark, Rangers prospect Justin Soryal fought former OHL rival Anthony Peluso. Just after five seconds after that, St. Louis' James Livingston went after Rangers defenseman Tysen Dowzak
, leading to more major penalties.
Before the Blues turned the tide, the Rangers had been in complete control of the game. Despite giving up a bad-bounce goal to Berglund, who was making a centering pass at 6:40 of the first when his attempt hit a Rangers skate and went in, the Rangers refused to let up, with Weise carrying the scoring load.
Weise got the Blueshirts on the board just 44 seconds into the middle period, scoring an even-strength goal off a nice feed from Justin Soryal
Weise came right back at the 12:22 mark to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead off assists from captain Brodie Dupont
and defenseman Michael Del Zotto
, the team's first-round pick last June. Weise scored his goal off a rush, beating Allen through the pads for his third goal in the past two games.
The Rangers peppered Allen with 12 shots in the first period, but the Blues' 2008 second-round draft pick Allen stopped everything, including the lone Rangers power play. The Blues, meanwhile, fired 10 first-period shots at Lafleur, and only the bad bounce went into the net.
In the first six minutes of the period, the Rangers had blitzed Allen, outshooting the Blues 7-2 only to come up empty.