After an opening-night loss at Pittsburgh, the Rangers have won seven straight.
Toronto and the New York Islanders are the only NHL teams that haven’t won a game this season. The Leafs will face another week of questions about their poor record because they don’t play again until next Saturday, when they open a five-game road trip in Vancouver.
The players plan to use the week of practice to try to repair their shaken confidence.
Marc Staal(notes), Michael Del Zotto(notes) and Enver Lisin(notes) also had goals for the Rangers (7-1). Marian Gaborik(notes) added two assists to give him points in all eight games he’s played since joining New York over the summer.
The Rangers were buoyed by a strong performance from Lundqvist, who made 34 saves.
“I think when you boil it all down, Lundqvist was just unbelievable,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said.
After missing the playoffs the last four years, the Leafs seem to have taken another step in the wrong direction and have already been soundly booed at home.
“I understand how frustrated the fans are—I do understand that,” Wilson said. “But booing doesn’t help.”
The coach has tried to keep the mood around his players light, having them play dodgeball in practice this week in an effort to ease the growing tension. It didn’t work.
The first period against New York was emblematic of the Leafs’ struggles as they trailed 1-0 despite being the stronger team.
The Leafs have been outscored 11-2 in the first period this season.
Two young Rangers defensemen quickly put Toronto in a deeper hole. Staal beat MacDonald through the legs on a wraparound at 4:36 before the rookie Del Zotto made it 3-0 just over a minute later, scoring his third of the season on a shot from the point.
“Once you get up two or three goals, you feel good,” Lundqvist said. “They feel like they have to score three goals to get back into it … and that’s tough to do.”
White scored 21 seconds after Del Zotto’s goal as he moved in from the point and banged a loose puck behind Lundqvist.
Lisin erased any notion of a comeback by roofing a shot over MacDonald at 2:26 of the third period after Leafs defenseman Jeff Finger(notes) attempted to block a shot, only to see the puck wind up on the Rangers player’s stick.
“It’s tough not winning seven games in a row,” Kaberle said. “You can feel it inside the dressing room.”
NOTES: Rangers forward Donald Brashear(notes) wears No. 87. He’s the only current player in the NHL other than Sidney Crosby(notes) to do so. … Former Leafs Mark Osborne, Bill Berg and Felix Potvin performed the ceremonial faceoff on “90’s Night.” … Toronto took the warmup in retro jerseys adorned with names like Rouse, Macoun and Borschevsky. … Garnet Exelby(notes), Jamal Mayers(notes) and Nikolai Kulemin(notes) were scratched for the Leafs. … Aaron Voros(notes) didn’t play for New York.