DETROIT – The Rangers have lost three straight for the first time since November.
After allowing the opening goal for a fifth consecutive game, Rangers managed to level the score early in the second period before the Red Wings took the lead to hand the visitors a 4-1 loss at Little Caesars Arena on Thursday evening.
It is only the fourth time this season that Rangers have lost three games in a row.
Detroit, which is seeking a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference, has now won seven of its last eight games.
Rangers announced before the start of the game that Vitali Kravtsov and Jake Leschyshyn were unavailable for ‘roster management reasons’, code under which a potential swap involving the players could be underway. As a result, head coach Gerard Gallant had to play with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Defender Ben Harpur dressed for the first time in six games. He had been left out since the Rangers acquired defenseman Niko Mikkola as part of the Blues deal that brought Vladimir Tarasenko to New York on Feb. 9. Thursday and recorded 2:50 of ice time.
Kravtsov hasn’t played since February 10 and has been ruled out healthy in 11 of the last 12 games, but Leschyshyn had been the center of the Rangers fourth line in the previous five games and 13 of the last 14 games.
Defensive lapses continued to plague Rangers. The three power plays they handed the Red Wings didn’t help their cause either. Detroit looked like the hungriest team and capitalized.
After former Ranger Andrew Copp opened the scoring early in the first period, Vincent Trocheck made it 1-1 by taking the shot himself on a two-man run alongside Alexis Lafrenière at 6:06 of the second period. .
Tyler Motte then returned the puck to the blue line, and the Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin saved it, leading to Filip Zadina’s goal just two minutes after the Rangers tied it. Michael Rasmussen then scored into a wide-open net with less than two minutes left in the second, when Jaroslav Halak was pulled out of the crease to make the first save.
Early in the third period, the Rangers were accused of having too many men on the ice, putting Detroit on the power play. Filip Hronek made it count, unloading a wrist from the top of the area for a 4-1 lead at 4:51.
The frustration clearly hit the Rangers, who edged the Red Wings 31-23, later in the game. A few fights broke out, but that did little to revive the Rangers attack.