The Rangers did just about everything right Wednesday night but left Madison Square Garden with a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Rangers outshot Detroit 33-18, but a Henrik Lundqvist misplay 59 seconds into the third period on a giveaway was the difference in the game.
Lundqvist played the puck behind the net but his clearing attempt was blocked by Luke Glendening who fed Drew Miller in front of the net for the easy tally.
"It happens," said a frustrated Lundqvist after the game. "It's just tough when it's the difference in the end here. It's tough to accept because we played really well. We had enough chances to be up probably four goals, but we were not."
New York opened the scoring just 1:09 into the game when Mika Zibanejad got a piece of a Ryan McDonagh's point blast that beat Jimmy Howard. Chris Kreider picked up the secondary assist to give him seven points in four games. The assist extended Kreider's point streak to four, which tied his career-high, while also setting a new career-best with assists in four straight.
Video: DET@NYR: Zibanejad's deflection opens the scoring
The Rangers carried the play for the remainder of the first period and came close on several chances to extend its lead. Jimmy Vesey was denied on a breakaway and his rebound attempt trickled wide. Later in the same shift, Brady Skjei tipped a shot that rang off the post.
The chances continued for the Rangers despite penalty trouble early in the middle frame. Michael Grabner was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway, then Rick Nash met the same fate. Mats Zuccarello, who had just exited the penalty box, was denied on Nash's rebound.
The penalties eventually caught up to New York. With Adam Clendening serving a minor for boarding, Thomas Vanek deflected Frans Nielsen's shot just under the crossbar to tie the game, 1-1, at 6:15.
Like the first period, New York continued to control the play in the second. But it was the superb goaltending of Howard that was the difference. Howard stopped McDonagh and Derek Stepan on back-to-back opportunities in the dying minutes of the second period to keep the game tied. He finished with 32 saves.
"It seems like we're playing the right way," said Nash, who finished with seven shots on goal in 17:23 of ice time. "We're not giving up too much. I thought [Howard] had a great game tonight. We've got to find a way to work the special teams a bit better."
After all that good, it was bad luck that sent a well-played game into the loss column.
New York's power play was 0-for-4, including a combined 1:02 up two men.
"They did a good job of blocking shots," Stepan said. "It's difficult when they collapse like that. You have to find a way to get shots through. That's something we can look at and certainly get better at and find ways to get around that. Give them some credit too. They did a really good job on the PK tonight."
After getting Monday off, Lundqvist started and was sharp despite not seeing many pucks. His best stop came in the first period when he robbed Tomas Tatar with the glove. He finished with 16 saves.
Kevin Klein played his first game of the season after missing the first three with back spasms. He finished with 19:19 of ice time.
Both Dan Girardi (groin strain) and Pavel Buchnevich (back spasms) missed the second consecutive games.