The Rangers gave up a season-high six goals to the Islanders on Tuesday night for their most lopsided loss of the year.
It was their first defeat by a margin of five goals this season as the Isles dominated all areas of the ice in a game that had playoff intensity. However, the Blueshirts were only outshot 28-26.
“When you lose six-to-one in the fashion we did, it certainly is humbling, that’s for sure,” head coach David Quinn said.
After losing veteran defenseman Jacob Trouba midway through the first period, the Rangers struggled to match the Islanders’ physicality and allowed them to control the pace of play. Top-line center Mika Zibanejad said the Rangers needed to do a better job of working together to make up for the loss of Trouba.
“I didn’t think we came up to the level of play that we needed to, it felt disconnected,” Zibanejad said. “We were a little bit too far away from each other, and couldn’t really get that forecheck that we have and the offense that we usually have. That’s hard when you’re far away from each other, you can’t really get that support. Even in the breakouts, but I don’t know, it just didn’t get up to the level of play and obviously this one stings.
“We’ve got to learn from this, but we have to look ahead and move on and make sure we come up around on Thursday.”
Aside from turning back to Igor Shesterkin in net, the Rangers deployed the same lineup Tuesday as the too-close-for-comfort win over the Devils on Sunday.
That meant that defenseman Libor Hajek was scratched for the second straight game, with Anthony Bitetto taking his place on the third defensive pairing next to Brendan Smith. Bitetto, who was on the ice for the two Devils goals in the third period that tied the previous game, sat for the final 8:33 of Sunday’s win.
Bitetto was a minus-three on Tuesday, with two shots on goal, three hits and a giveaway in 16:25 of ice time.
Asked if there would be lineup changes going forward, Quinn said he hadn’t had a chance to deliberate that yet.
“It’s too early to answer that question,” he said. “Just something I haven’t thought about yet.”
The Rangers have Zac Jones as another option on defense after the 20-year-old signed his entry-level contract last week. Quinn has said he wants Jones to earn his spot in the lineup and would plug him in when he’s able to make an impact.
“It’s been hard because we haven’t had a lot of team practices, it’s been tough with judging,” Quinn said of Jones. “He’s got a quick brain, quick stick, great skill set, really understands the game.”
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