It wasn't 60 minutes but the Rangers were pleased with their effort despite a 4-3, shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Blueshirts overcame a 3-1, third period deficit on goals by Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, with the second coming with 11.6 seconds remaining in regulation. But Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby each scored in the shootout to spoil New York's comeback.
"They are a good team. They won the Stanley Cup last year; they know what it takes to win," Nash said after his goal 8:50 into the third cut the Rangers' deficit to one. "They have a lot of guys over there that play the right way and we knew it was going to be a great test for us tonight. I think we still have some areas to clean up, but I think 5-on-5 we were pretty good."
New York came out strong with seven of the game's first eight shots, but could not sustain it. Pittsburgh withstood the early storm and outshot the Rangers 14-1 over the final 9:41. The Rangers got into penalty trouble late in the first, starting with Mika Zibanejad taking a high-sticking minor at 16:15, and Kreider following it up with a tripping infraction.
While the Rangers killed both off, Pittsburgh did open the scoring on a goal by Jake Guentzel two seconds after Kreider's minor expired, which was followed by Nick Holden being whistled for holding.
"They got some momentum off their power play, even though they didn't score," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We survived those three penalties that we had to kill there."
New York would get a power play of its own late in the second and make the most of it when Holden's long slap shot caught a piece of Tom Kuhnackl and beat Matt Murray to cut the deficit to 3-2 at 19:33.
Video: PIT@NYR: Nash bangs home deflected shot for nice goal
After Bryan Rust scored to make it 3-1 6:46 into the third, Nash answered 2:06 later to get New York back within a goal. J.T. Miller carried the puck into Pittsburgh's end and dangled through a defender before sending a pass to Nash, who had an empty net for his 23rd of the season, and fifth in his last six games.
With Lundqvist pulled for the extra attacker, Kreider was able to put home a loose puck inside the crease with just under 12 seconds remaining to force the game to overtime.
Video: PIT@NYR: Kreider punches in rebound to tie game late
After a breakneck pace in the three-on-three period that saw both sides trade chances unsuccessfully, it was Pittsburgh that scored on both its shootout chances while Murray stopped Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello missed the net.
Lundqvist turned in his best game since returning from a three-week absence with a hip injury in making 32 saves, including 15 in the first period.
"He was by far our best player," Nash said. "I thought the score could have gotten out of control for a little stretch. It seems like they had a lot of chances in bunches. He was definitely our best player."
Video: PIT@NYR: Lundqvist brings breakaway to a standstill
Lundqvist said he felt better tonight than in his two previous outings on the west coach. And although he was encouraged by his team's ability to overcome their third period hole, he still needs to improve his game to give his team a better chance to come away with two points.
"You need to find another level here to make that extra save, but we got a point," he said. "But I still think parts of the game we played really well defensively and then they turned it up a little bit and we were on the outside (looking) in, instead of on the inside-out. It made it tough for us. But a lot of credit to the guys - we found a way to tie it up here. It was a pretty good hockey game."