Rangers still missing needed spark in overtime loss to Kraken

SEATTLE — For a team that showed so much spark and so much fight last season, the Rangers have had one too many blah performances to start this 2022-23 campaign. 

Thursday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena was certainly one of them. Despite Vincent Trocheck’s game-tying power-play goal with 1:54 left in regulation to force the extra period, Justin Schultz scored his second goal of the game with less than a minute and a half left in overtime to secure the victory for Seattle. 

The Rangers are still struggling to play at the level they want to for a full 60 minutes, and it cost them in this game. So far this season, more often than not, there will be at least one period in which they are severely outshot, out-willed or just simply out-hustled. Perhaps the most concerning part is the lack of energy at times. 

The Rangers still can’t seem to put together a complete performance.
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It was the second period on Thursday night, and the Kraken did just about everything but score. The Rangers had goalie Igor Shesterkin to thank for that. 

Shesterkin kept the Rangers afloat in the lopsided middle frame during which the Kraken outshot the visitors 16-5 and held a 13-3 edge in high-danger chances, per Natural Stat Trick. A minute and a half into the period, Shesterkin gloved down a hard shot from Schultz before Matty Beniers rung one off the post. The Russian netminder later denied Daniel Sprong on a breakaway. 

The Rangers can’t afford to waste a spectacular performance from Shesterkin, who hasn’t been able to put forth such an effort as consistently as he did to start last season. Shesterkin had been strong sliding across the crease for much of the game until Schultz’s game-winner in overtime. He ultimately finished with 30 saves. 

Igor Shesterkin reacts during the Rangers' loss to the Kraken.
Igor Shesterkin reacts during the Rangers’ loss to the Kraken.
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For the second time in the past three games, the Rangers were called for having too many men on the ice. It marked the first of three penalties the Rangers took in the second, but Seattle wasn’t able to capitalize. The Rangers, who have now killed off 14 of their last 15 penalties over the last four games, have been pretty strong on the penalty kill this season. 

Kaapo Kakko recorded one of the Rangers’ top chances of the game, forcing Kraken goalie Martin Jones to make a sprawling save after flashing some nice hands with a move in front of the net at 13:15 of the second period. 

Jared McCann's shot gets by Igor Shesterkin for a goal in the first period.
Jared McCann’s shot gets by Igor Shesterkin for a goal in the first period.
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After failing to put up a single shot through the full two minutes of their first opportunity, the Rangers’ top power-play unit — which had gone 5-for-20 in the previous six games — evened the score, 1-1, at 14:03 of the first period. Trocheck kicked the puck to Chris Kreider, who fed Mika Zibanejad for the wrist shot at the bottom of the left faceoff circle. 

The goal was Zibanejad’s seventh on the power play, which is tied with the Oilers’ Connor McDavid for the NHL lead, and his 10th on the season.