Rangers Knock Off Blackhawks 2-1

Nash, Brassard score as Hawks drop opener of post-Olympic slate

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Peter Regin scored his first goal with the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, but it wasn't enough as the Hawks began their post-Olympic break slate with a 2-1 loss at the hands of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. 

Rick Nash and Derrick Brassard scored goals for the Rangers, while Cam Talbot made 31 saves in the winning effort. Corey Crawford stopped 22 shots for the Hawks, but it wasn't enough as the Hawks dropped a tough contest. 

The game started out with both sides trying to get reacquainted with the pace of the NHL game, and the sloppiness led to precious few scoring chances in the first period. The Blackhawks did get a couple of two-on-one rushes, but Brandon Bollig's shot on Talbot went wide of the net, and Andrew Shaw couldn't corral a pass from Patrick Kane on the rush, and the opportunity was lost. 

About halfway through the period, the Rangers finally got their first quality chance of the game, and New York was able to capitalize. After a bad turnover by Jonathan Toews in the neutral zone, Brassard got the puck on his stick and fired a shot towards the net. When Nick Leddy stopped the shot, Brassard picked up his own rebound, and he put it past Crawford to make it 1-0 Rangers. 

The Blackhawks got two power play opportunities as the period wore on, but neither one of them resulted in a goal. Kane got arguably the best chance out of the two man-advantage situations when he attempted to put in a rebound off a Toews wraparound, but Talbot made a nice sliding save across the crease, and the Rangers kept their one goal lead after the first period ended. 

In the second period, neither team was able to get any sustained pressure, with one power play for each side in the frame. The Rangers ended up with an 11-7 shot advantage in the frame, but Crawford helped keep the Blackhawks in the game with a few great saves in the crease to keep the game at 1-0 after two periods of play. 

As the third period got underway, the Blackhawks finally seemed to get their offensive legs under them, and they got some great chances early on. Despite the increased pressure on the front of the net, Talbot continued to stymie the Hawks, showing great lateral movement and fought through several tough screens to keep his team in front. 

Despite an early 7-1 shot advantage for Chicago, the Rangers ended up getting the critical second goal in the game to take control. Nash corralled the puck in the offensive zone, and after being denied on his first opportunity, he circled the net and used Niklas Hjalmarsson as a screen to fool Crawford and put the puck in the net, giving New York a 2-0 lead. 

Head coach Joel Quenneville ended up pulling Crawford with about 2:45 to go in the game, but the Hawks couldn't manage to pot a goal until the closing seconds of the contest. After a Ben Smith attempt was denied by Talbot, Regin picked up the puck and squeezed a shot through the goaltender's legs to cut the lead to 2-1 with just under 12 seconds remaining in the game. 

The Blackhawks got one more good opportunity when Kane drove to the net with about four seconds left in the game. The shot was steered into the corner by Talbot, and the ensuing pile-up along the boards prevented Chicago from getting another chance as the final horn sounded. 

The Hawks will try to redeem themselves on Saturday night when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field. The game starts at 7pm, and NBC will be airing the game. 

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