Special teams were the story Sunday night in the Rangers' 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden.
New York went 0-for-4 on the power play and surrendered a power play goal against in two chances in the team's first shutout loss of the year.
"We had the puck the whole time," Derek Stepan said of the power play. "It's really difficult when they're in the lanes. It's hard to generate what you're trying to accomplish. Give them some credit tonight. They were perfect defensively, and when they're perfectly defensively, you have to execute perfectly."
The opportunities were there for the Rangers in the first period, including three chances on the power play. Rick Nash drove to the net and slid a pass to Brandon Pirri, whose attempt was stopped by a sprawling Craig Anderson.
On a power play later in the period, Nash drove to the net but was denied by Anderson. Jimmy Vesey had a chance of his own with the man advantage but was unable to convert on an odd-man rush.
"We are a team that likes to create on the rush and they didn't give us many opportunities to do that," Ryan McDonagh said. "They didn't turn pucks over; they made sure they got pucks in deep. They made us go the full length of the ice for the majority of the game and they had numbers back. But in the end we have to find a way - some in-zone plays, running our cycles, getting pucks up top, and getting shots down at the net. There are other ways to create offense and that was a test for us tonight that we didn't accomplish."
Those missed opportunities loomed large in the second period when Ottawa scored a pair of goals by Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mark Stone, the second of which came on the power play. Nick Holden's clearing attempt hit the referee and kept the play alive for Stone to eventually capitalize.
"That's hockey, sometimes it can bounce from the glass or like that," said Antti Raanta, who finished with 18 saves in his first defeat of the season. "It was just a broken play and they got a quick shot there. Some of those shots you want to make the save from the short side. It was a bad bounce there."
The Rangers' high-powered offense has been kept in check as of late, scoring one goal or less in two of the last three games, both of which were losses. McDonagh attributed the dip to teams scouting the Rangers more than earlier in the season, but said adjustments defensively could change that.
"Obviously teams have seen a lot of us now," McDonagh said. "You might be seeing teams for a second time now at this point in the season. They understand our speed game is a big strength of ours. It is up to us defensively in units of five creating those turnovers and not spending a lot of time in our zone and us moving the puck up to our forwards quick, catching them when they are not in their structure."
The Rangers host the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden