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Leafs beat up struggling Rangers in 4-0 victory at the Garden (Highlights)

The New York Rangers struggles continued as the Toronto Maple Leafs came to Madison Square Garden was all over the Blueshirts. 

The New York Rangers were back in action for the first time since Jan. 26 as their extended NHL All-Star break finally came to an end. The team welcomed newly acquired Cody McLeod aboard as Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs paid a visit to the Garden.

This was the third matchup between the two teams where the Rangers lost both games. That wouldn’t change in this one as Toronto came out and walked all over the Blueshirts taking it by the score of 4-0.

Throughout this game, you couldn’t help but notice the difference between the Rangers and Maple Leafs. The pressure that Toronto applied appeared to be too much for the Blueshirts to handle.

Every time the Rangers tried to connect on a pass, it was broken up. As a result of this, the Rangers were never really able to generate any sustained pressure. They found themselves chasing Toronto up and down the ice, which ultimately was too much to handle.

Toronto was coming off a victory over the Islanders Wednesday out and they clearly had the fresh legs to start. They outshot the Rangers 10-5 in the first period while forcing the Rangers into seven giveaways.

Another turnover in the Rangers end resulted in a goal. This time it was Ryan McDonagh committing the turnover as the puck was intercepted at the blue line. Rookie Justin Holl would get the shot to go off the post and in scoring his second goal in two games to put Toronto up 1-0.

Not only have turnovers been a common trend for this Ranger team. Their poor defensive coverage has played a major role in their horrible month of January. This time it was Mats Zuccarello who got caught and Toronto would take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

It only got worse from there as Toronto came out in the second and picked up right where they left off in the first. 52 seconds into the second Patrick Marleau fired one past Henrik Lundqvist to give Toronto a 3-0 lead.

Toronto would not let up as they continued to go on the attack and nothing looked to be stopping them. Another defensive miscue would lead to the end of the night for Lundqvist and put the Maple Leafs up by four.

Lundqvist now has a 2.96 career goals-against-average against the Maple Leafs. That is a career-worst for the four-time all-star netminder.

The only thing that could take the momentum away from Toronto in this one was a play out of frustration. J.T. Miller would hit the glass after missing a shot which resulted in a halt in the game.

That was the type of night it was for the Rangers. They continued to not generate any offense and continued to struggle defensively. They continued their poor play prior to the All-Star break and heard plenty of boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd.

To make things worse, Pavel Buchnevich left the game in the second period with an injury and did not return.

Neither team would score in the third period despite scoring chances on both sides. The Rangers will next be in action Saturday night in Nashville.

Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.