Karlsson’s overtime winner gives Sharks victory in Quinn’s return, Inconsistent Rangers get what they deserve in bad loss

For those who weren’t aware, David Quinn was back in town with his San Jose Sharks. A team that entered winless in their first five games, having been outscored 19-8. No problem. Right? Wrong.

Instead of taking care of business against a woefully bad team that still features some NHL talent, the Rangers played down to the competition and earned a well deserved 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks. Erik Karlsson’s goal at 49 seconds of overtime made a winner of Quinn in a successful return to MSG.

The goal was emblematic of how poorly the Rangers played the third period that carried over to the first two shifts of OT. Following a hiccup from turnover prone Adam Fox leading to Timo Meier feeding Tomas Hertl for a scoring chance that Igor Shestyorkin bailed Fox out on, it was Karlsson who undressed Artemi Panarin and then received a Meier pass around the net for an easy finish with Shestyorkin out of position.

The game-winner was the direct result of both Panarin and a passive Vincent Trocheck allowing Karlsson to put a great move on and get the puck over for Hertl. With Jacob Trouba giving chase behind the net, that left Meier enough time to find Karlsson wide open for the win.

It was a complete breakdown during an ugly three-on-three sequence. The first OT they played didn’t go well. It ended quickly. The right team won. That would be the now 1-5-0 Sharks who outshot the Rangers 16-2 in a lopsided third and then added the first two shots in extras including the Karlsson winner.

It was an embarrassment. They let a struggling team that isn’t expected to compete to come into The Garden and take the game. It wasn’t that way during the first two periods. For the most part, they played up to par. However, they only came out even at two on the scoreboard due to a lack of discipline and a total breakdown.

Winning hockey is simple. Outplay the opponent at even strength. Take advantage of your chances on special teams. Limit mistakes. The Rangers didn’t do it. Even when they were handed an 11-second five-on-three due to consecutive minor penalties from San Jose, they did virtually nothing with the first two power plays.

Instead, it was Quinn’s aggressive penalty killers who applied pressure at the points and stood up at the blue line to make life difficult. The vaunted first unit kept turning pucks over and having the hungrier Sharks send the puck down. They didn’t get much done. In fact, they went 0-for-5 on the power play with only three shots. It was pathetic.

As if that was bad enough, you had the much maligned Sammy Blais take a needless tripping minor on Meier to send the Sharks to the man-advantage. It didn’t take long for them to cash in. On a good play started by Karlsson, Luke Kunin set up Logan Couture for a power play goal at 6:02 to give the Sharks an early lead.

It wasn’t as if San Jose played well in the period. They didn’t. They kept shooting themselves in the foot by taking minor penalties. Over two minutes following Couture’s goal, Radek Simek took down an attacking Alexis Lafreniere to go off for tripping.

On the power play for a third time, they got trigger man Mika Zibanejad two set ups. He was stopped on one by James Reimer. The other, he misfired wide. Chris Kreider just missed on a tip-in try. He’s been a bit unlucky so far. He would later hit a crossbar. Kreider just has to keep plugging away. They’ll start going in.

After they killed the penalty, the Sharks went to work. Following a Filip Chytil block, Trouba took a slashing minor on Meier to hand them a second power play. That’s how the first was. Basically special teams with not much flow at five-on-five.

The penalty kill held the teal to one shot. Shestyorkin handled a Hertl try. Afterwards, they finally had some play at even strength. You had some physicality with both sides finishing checks.

When it was all even, it was mostly Rangers controlling the puck deep in the San Jose zone. However, Reimer was sharp denying Lafreniere with two and a half minutes left. He played well making 21 saves on 23 shots. Most of his work came in the second when he stopped 12 of 13 to give Quinn’s Sharks a chance.

One of the best players was Chytil. He was flying throughout. Using his size and speed to get in on the forecheck and create scoring chances, his persistence drew a slash from Kunin to put the Rangers back on the power play with under 49 seconds left in the period.

The Sharks got some key blocks to get out of the first up by one. They might not be the most talented. But they do play hard for Quinn. Eerily similar to how things went when he was in charge of the rebuild here. They hung around long enough tonight.

At the start of the second, it was following a Sharks’ kill that the Rangers drew even. On some good hustle from a back checking Kreider, that forced a turnover inside the San Jose zone. Chytil stole the puck and broke in on Reimer before going five-hole on the mini-break to tie the score at 1:50.

Just a great effort from a young player gaining confidence. If he wasn’t stuck playing with Blais and Barclay Goodrow, he probably could have more points. That’s how impressive he’s been. Chytil definitely continues to open eyes. He did with his pass on a Lafreniere goal and again was up to the task by getting his second goal and drawing two penalties. That’s your third line center. He needs some help. Hopefully soon, Vitaly Kravtsov can supply it.

Unlike the opening period, the entire second was played at five-on-five. There were no penalties called. It was largely dictated by the Rangers. They would out-shoot the Sharks 13-4.

Twice, Kreider narrowly missed. He hit the crossbar on one shot and had another go wide. Other than the win at Minnesota where he buried two, that’s how it’s gone so far. The good news is he is continuing to work hard. Even more startling, he has just as many assists (2) as goals (2) after the team’s first five games.

With the game still tied, Shestyorkin denied a Hertl backhand on a good look. Even though they only had nine total shots through the first two periods, the Sharks found some openings in the Rangers coverage. They aren’t playing as tightly. It’s showing.

Near the halfway point, some superb passing up ice between Fox and Panarin led to a beautiful go-ahead goal from the Bread Man at 9:05. After Trocheck moved the puck up for Fox, he rushed up ice and moved the puck back for Panarin who made a great one-timer far side on Reimer for his third to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. It was poetry in motion. Two artists putting on display what makes them special talents.

Even though they carried most of the play, the Sharks found a hole in the defense to get even 4:05 later. On a shift where they out-worked the fourth line and the defense, Oskar Lindblom and Matt Nieto combined to find Simek open. He moved easily around Fox and Jimmy Vesey to beat Shestyorkin low and inside the net. The puck went underneath him. A goal he usually doesn’t allow. The lousy coverage didn’t help.

Following a repair, the cohesive second lime came close. But Reimer made consecutive saves on Trocheck and Lafreniere. Both continue to click well with Panarin. Lafreniere nearly had Panarin later for a potential goal. But his pass was deflected away by a San Jose player.

Despite creating other opportunities, the Rangers remained deadlocked at two with the Sharks after the period expired. One school of thought is they controlled most of the action. The other was that a defensive lapse let an inferior opponent off the hook. These are the games you have to put away. They never did.

As the Yankees were driving me crazy with their anemic offense and lousy at bats in a recurring nightmare against the Astros which may as well have been Groundhog Day, I watched most of the third in shock. It was the Sharks who were hungrier to the puck. They played loose and went after it. The Rangers resembled the Yankees.

When you only are credited with two measly shots in the third period of a tie game, that’s not getting it done. They were lifeless. The Sharks looked to take a bite out of Shestyorkin. Fortunately, he was awake long enough to make 16 saves and get the Rangers a point.

There were big stops on several Sharks including a few who aren’t household names. Their checking line caused problems. It was a struggle to even survive the long third period. One that saw San Jose pounce on every mistake and get the puck towards the net.

Shestyorkin saved the Rangers’ bacon. Even when Kunin took a penalty on who else but Chytil with 4:58 left, an awful pass from Fox forced Panarin to take down Nico Sturm. He intercepted the puck and Panarin tripped him up to negate a shorthanded rush.

During the four-on-four, it was the more aggressive Sharks who went for it. But Shestyorkin turned aside Meier twice and then Hertl. With time running short, he also denied Alexander Barabanov.

In what was an otherwise quiet game for him, K’Andre Miller had a one-timer from distance easily picked by the glove of Reimer 93 seconds left in regulation. There wasn’t enough traffic. It was only the second shot of the period. The other coming from Vesey much earlier.

In overtime, Gallant went with Trocheck, Panarin and Fox. His best offensive guys. However, they got dominated by the Quinn trio of Hertl, Meier and Karlsson. After Fox fell down and coughed up the puck, Meier had Hertl for what felt like the winner. But his shot was easily smothered by Shestyorkin.

On the next face-off, Hertl beat Trocheck to get the puck back to Karlsson. Once the game’s best defenseman, he turned back the clock by completely housing Panarin with a great move. Trocheck watched. Then, with the Rangers scrambling, Meier took a Hertl feed and easily set up Karlsson for the overtime winner at 49 seconds.

It was over quick. For all the flak I playfully give Quinn, his team earned the the two points. They outplayed the Rangers by a wide margin over the final 20:49. They deserved the win. Congrats to Quinn on coming back to MSG and getting a victory. You could see what it meant as he shook hands with his assistants. He’s a good man.

It probably won’t get any easier for San Jose. But for one night, they were better than the Rangers. A team with higher expectations. You have to wonder why they’ve been so inconsistent defensively. The next game is against the high scoring Johnny Gaudreau Blue Jackets. They’ll have to put in a better effort.

This was disappointing. But they’ve played five games and gotten seven points out of ten. It was a worse game than the Winnipeg loss. Gallant wasn’t pleased. He shouldn’t be. There’s plenty to work on.

Dryden Hunt was claimed on waivers by the Avalanche. I guess they appreciate the hard work he puts in. I know I was critical at times over the lack of finish. But Hunt always brought an honest approach to each game. He finished checks and played with grit which Gallant prefers. He lost out due to Vesey and coach favorite Ryan Carpenter. Good luck to him in Colorado.


3rd 🌟 Tomas Hertl Sharks assist, 5 SOG, 9-8 draws in 19:20

2nd 🌟 Filip Chytil Rangers goal (2nd), 3 SOG, 2 penalties drawn, +1 in 15:50

1st 🌟 🤩 ⭐️ Erik Karlsson Sharks overtime winner at 49 seconds plus 🍎 in 23:54


About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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