The Rangers' push towards the playoffs got off to a rocky start with a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Henrik Lundqvist was pulled for the second consecutive start after allowing four goals on 13 shots in the loss, the team's fourth in its last five games.
"The desperation needs to be there now every night," Lundqvist said. "It's hard. You feel like you let people down when you don't get the job done. You're here to play for the group in here but also the fans and we want to make sure we play strong games moving forward. Personally, I have to start with myself."
Toronto had a 2-0 lead after the first on goals by Justin Holl and James van Riemsdyk, and doubled it to four on tallies by Patrick Marleau and Zach Hyman in the first 3:05 of the second to end Lundqvist's night.
The Rangers were victimized by turnovers throughout the contest, with 15 over the 60 minutes and unfortunately for New York, it seemed as though every break and chance that went Toronto's way showed up on the scoreboard.
"The looks that they got, they made us pay and we weren't able to make them pay for any of the looks (that the Rangers got)," coach Alain Vigneault said.
Marleau's goal came off a blocked shot by Brady Skjei that found its way right onto Marleau's stick. The forward snapped a shot and caught Lundqvist off guard.
"I think the situation surprised me a little bit," he said. "The way he got the puck right in the middle, the shot kind of curved away from me. It was going towards my blocker and then it curved to my right."
New York lost Pavel Buchnevich, who exited the game midway through the second with an upper-body injury following a hit by Jake Gardiner that Vigneault said caught Buchnevich on the jaw.
Neither the players or Vigneault used the week-long gap between games as a crutch, especially following two days of practice in preparation for a Toronto team that played and traveled last night.
With just over 30 games to go and the Rangers battling with several teams for playoff positioning, the loss - and the way it came -were deflating for a team that entered the day with the best of intentions. Now, New York heads out on a two-game road trip starting Saturday night in Nashville against a Predators squad that's currently third overall in the Western Conference.
"We've got to go back to work tomorrow and focus on the next game," said Rick Nash, "and getting the two points."