The home portion of the 2017-18 season came a close on Friday with a 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In what was an emotional pregame ceremony that included Henrik Lundqvist being presented the 2018 Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award and a video tribute to the returning Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and J.T. Miller, the Rangers said goodbye to The Garden for the summer, as they'll wrap up the season with four games on the road.
After jumping out to a 1-0 lead 5:01 into the game on a goal by Brady Skjei, Tampa scored the next five goals, starting with a pair 1:18 apart early in the middle frame.
Cedric Paquette evened the score at 3:15 before Alex Killorn put the visitors ahead for good at 4:33 of the middle frame.
The Lightning opened things up in the third with three goals in the first 2:38.
Miller, who had an assist on Paquette's goal, scored a power play 35 seconds into the third. It was his ninth goal as a member of the Lightning. Paquette notched his second of the game 1:18 later that made it 4-1.
Brayden Point finished the scoring when his wrist shot from the slot made it 5-1.
"I don't know. A few minutes of bad play," Mika Zibanejad said. "They're a good team and they're going to take advantage of their chances and that's what happened."
Video: TBL@NYR: Chytil nets first NHL goal from the doorstep
Filip Chytil scored his first NHL goal at 8:14 of the third when Mats Zuccarello shot went wide, but caromed back in front for Chytil to bury into the empty net. It was his second point in three games following his recall from Hartford (AHL) on Sunday.
The 18-year-old said he's gaining confidence with each passing game in the NHL.
"I think I'm more confident after every shift and I love scoring goals," he said. "It's something special and I'm really glad my first goal was in Madison Square Garden."
Coach Alain Vigneault said too many of his players "had an off night," but Chytil's production was a positive he could take.
"I thought Filip had a good game. He showed some real good speed, he had a couple good looks, got his first NHL goal," Vigneault said. "From an individual stand point, that was a good step today."
Chris Kreider added his 16th of the season to make it a two-goal lead with 3:29 remaining in the game, but Point's second of the night into an empty net iced the game with 1:44 to play, and Girardi scored another with 34 seconds remaining.
Now the Rangers close out the season with four straight on the road, starting with Carolina Saturday night. And while they'll be local with tilts against the Devils, Islanders and Flyers, there was disappointment in not leaving The Garden with two points.
"The season has been tough," Zibanejad said. "It hasn't been as we were hoping and as we wanted. To not be able to finish it off with a win in front of the fans is disappointing. It's unfortunate to not give them something and get ourselves a good feeling at least winning the last home game. It's just empty."