SAN JOSE - The Rangers lost the battle, but won the war Tuesday night in San Jose when they clinched a playoff berth with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Sharks at SAP Center.
New York scored three straight to erase a 3-1 deficit, but allowed the game-tying goal with 2:15 remaining in the game before Brent Burns scored the winner on the power play 3:10 into the extra period.
With Nick Holden in the penalty box for holding the stick, Joe Pavelski fed Burns with a pass at the top of the circle, who wristed the shot past Henrik Lundqvist for the winner.
"Not yet," said J.T. Miller, who scored twice, when asked if there's solace in the fact the Rangers were able to secure their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "Yeah it's nice, but we all understand the situation. We came here for two points and to play a 60-minute game. We definitely didn't give our best for the first two-thirds of the game tonight."
Video: NYR@SJS: Stepan pots PPG off Zuccarello's slick dish
With the Rangers on the power play and down 3-1 in the final minute of the second period, Mats Zuccarello fed Derek Stepan with a pass at the bottom of the left faceoff dot to get New York within a goal with under 23 seconds remaining in the stanza.
The Rangers carried that momentum into the third and evened the score when Jesper Fast got a piece of Brady Skjei's blast from the point 1:24.
Video: NYR@SJS: Miller hammers home one-timer for PPG
Miller would net his second of the night with the Rangers on a 4-on-3 power play to give the Rangers their first lead of the night at 4:44. Skjei hit Miller with a no-look pass at the faceoff dot, and Miller blasted the one-timer and caught Martin Jones out of position for his 22nd of the season.
Mika Zibanejad nearly won the game for the Rangers when his wrist shot hit the crossbar 2:56 remaining in the overtime.
San Jose, who entered the game on a six-game losing streak, jumped out to a lead on a Jannik Hansen goal just 1:44 into the game.
Video: NYR@SJS: Miller beats Jones up high with wrister
New York withstood the storm and evened the score when J.T. Miller's wrist shot from the circle beat Martin Jones top shelf at 13:30. Matt Puempel won a puck battle just inside the Sharks zone and got it to Miller, who fired the shot off the rush for his 21st goal of the season.
San Jose would score the next two, including a shorthanded goal by Melker Karlsson with 2:01 remaining in the first period. Tierney's first of the night came 11:38 into the second period put the Sharks up two before New York's comeback.
Lundqvist made 30 saves, including 13 in the second period that kept the Rangers afloat before the Rangers rallied. The netminder said he was "extremely disappointed" that he and the team could not preserve the one-goal lead late that would have made the playoff qualifier easier to enjoy.
"I'm glad we're in [the playoffs]," said Lundqvist, who has made the playoffs in 11 of his 12 seasons in New York, "but I want to get the job done. I want to get a win. I want to help the team get wins. We found a way to lose this one in the end."
Coach Alain Vigneault said he and his team must separate tonight's loss from tonight's accomplishment of securing its spot in the big dance.
"They're two different things," he said. "Tonight's game, for 39 minutes we didn't show up. We didn't make a play, we didn't compete, we didn't execute. Then we get a power play opportunity where we scored and after that in the third period, we played a good third period.
"At the end of the night we got a point," Vigneault added. "We got a checkmark and that's the other thing. For us to get into the playoffs - it's hard to get into the playoffs. It's a testament to how hard this group and how well they prepared during the season … we're in and it's obviously the first objective of any team is to get into the playoffs."