Marner 23-game point streak ends in Maple Leafs loss to Rangers

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NEW YORKMitchell Marner‘s team-record 23-game point streak ended and the Toronto Maple Leafs lost in regulation for the first time in 16 games, 3-1 to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

The Rangers (16-10-5) won their fifth straight game behind two goals from Jimmy Vesey, one on the power play from Filip Chytil, two assists from Vincent Trocheck to give him 400 NHL points, and Igor Shesterkin‘s 22 saves.

“They’ve been rolling and it’s definitely a quote-unquote measuring stick game,” Vesey said. “We were feeling good about ourselves too. I think it’s a big win for us knowing how we have to play to win those big games.”

Marner’s streak (32 points; 11 goals, 21 assists) was the longest in Maple Leafs history and third-longest by an active player in the NHL behind Patrick Kane‘s 26 straight in 2014-15 and Sidney Crosby‘s 25-game streak in 2010-11.

“It was cool,” Marner said. “It was a cool accomplishment to have your name with some great legends, hold something special to this team. It wouldn’t be possible without the guys in this room. A lot of love goes out to them. It’s time to refocus here.”

Video: TOR@NYR: Chytil rips a PPG to kick off scoring

Toronto (19-6-6) hadn’t lost in regulation since Nov. 11. Its streak of 15 straight games with a point (12-0-3) was one short of tying the team record set in the 2003-04 season (14-0-2).

Matt Murray made 17 saves and Michael Bunting scored for Toronto to extend his point streak to 10 games (three goals, nine assists).

The Maple Leafs were 0-for-3 with four shots on goal on the power play.

“That was pretty bad, it was horrible really, not creating a whole lot for our team,” Marner said of the power play. “They scored on their power play, we didn’t create much off ours. That’s something we’ve got to look at, something we’ve got to be better at with our mindset, our plays, our passes. We’re a lot better than what we showed on that power play.”

Chytil put the Rangers up 1-0 with a power-play goal at 3:52 of the first period. He got the puck in the lower part of the left face-off circle and beat Murray high on the far side with a shot that appeared to ricochet off Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl.

It was Chytil’s first power-play goal since Jan. 2, 2020, and the first of the season for the Rangers’ second power-play unit.

Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, Vitali Kravtsov and Jacob Trouba came on the ice with a minute remaining in the man-advantage, which is rare because typically the Rangers’ top power-play group stays on the ice for at least 90 seconds before changing.

“Finally, we had a little more time and we could make some plays,” Chytil said. “We won a face-off, I got good help there on the face-off, and we could make good plays in that 50 seconds that we got there. Finally, we scored.”

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said, “They deserved the opportunity. It was great to see.”

Bunting scored off a rebound at 14:06 to make it 1-1. David Kampf deflected Conor Timmins‘ shot. Shesterkin made the save, but the rebound came to Bunting on the left side and he put it in.

“He’s going to the net, doing his thing,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said of Bunting. “He’s a streaky scorer and he’s feeling it right now. He’s played well for a good chunk of time so it’s good to see him get rewarded.”

Vesey put the Rangers back in the lead, 2-1 at 15:33 of the second period, when he got the puck from Trocheck, made a move around a sliding TJ Brodie, went backhand-forehand and roofed a short-side shot past Murray from the right circle.

Vesey said he was thinking short side the entire time, calling it a move he has in his bag from a long time ago.

“I was trying to see what the defenseman’s first move was going to be,” Vesey said. “I thought he slid a little early so I thought I could get around him. Just used my instincts and lucky enough it went in short-side.”

Video: TOR@NYR: Vesey blasts a shot to the crossbar and in

The Rangers stayed ahead by killing Chytil’s minor penalty for holding at 2:21 of the third period.

Shesterkin made 10 saves in the third period and Vesey scored into the empty net at 18:47 of the third for the 3-1 final.

“Everything has gone our way for real long time, and that’s not the reality of the NHL,” Keefe said. “We’ll push past this one here today. We’re right there. Their goalie makes one more save than ours and we don’t make good on our chances on the power play. But there’s nothing wrong with how we played the game today.”

NOTES: Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews‘ eight-game point streak ended. … Toronto played the third period without defenseman Timothy Liljegren, who left the game with an upper-body injury. Keefe said he would be assessed Friday. … This was the Rangers’ first win in their new reverse retro jerseys. They lost their first four games wearing them at the Garden. … Vesey had his first multigoal game since March 3, 2021, when he scored twice when he was skating for the Maple Leafs.

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