The Rangers rallied from two-goals down in the third period but fell to the Islanders, 4-3, in a shootout Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes scored in the third period, but Jordan Eberle and John Tavares each beat Henrik Lundqvist in the shootout to deny the Rangers of their second win of the season.
"We buckled down," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Our guys worked extremely hard. Maybe our execution may not be perfect, but the work ethic in that room and the commitment to try and play the right way is there. I'm a firm believer in that if you prepare, work hard, things are going to fall into place.
"We battled back again tonight," he added. "That's not the first time that we've done that this year. We got one point but we battled hard."
With the Blueshirts down 3-1 after 40 minutes, Zuccarello got the home team back to within a goal 3:29 into the final period when he capitalized on a blocked Brendan Smith cross-ice pass.
Smith appeared to tie the game minutes later when he drove to the net and the puck caromed in off his skate. But the goal was overturned after video review determined it was kicked in, though Smith disagreed with the call.
"It's the flip of a coin," Smith said of video review. "It's tough. Unfortunate not to get that one there. In my mind, I didn't kick it with my right. I directed and tried to keep the puck in off the rebound. I definitely didn't kick it."
Video: NYI@NYR: Hayes ties game with shot from goal line
Hayes, though, would tie the game officially at 14:06 on a bad angle shot from near the goal line that found a hole through Jaroslav Halak.
The poor starts continued for the Rangers, as Anders Lee scored a power play goal just 2:40 into the contest.
"It's challenging. It's challenging for our group. It's challenging mentally," Vigneault said of the early goals against.
David Desharnais would get his second goal in as many games just 2:22 later to even the score. The Islanders pulled ahead just 1:04 later on a goal by Brock Nelson, and rookie Mathew Barzal notched his first career goal 1:15 into the second to put the visitors ahead by two.
The loss dropped the Rangers to 1-5-2 on the season. And while it's still just the second week of the season, the Rangers know things must be turned around quick in the competitive Metropolitan Division.
"We need wins now," said Lundqvist, who made a highlight reel save on Josh Bailey as time expired in regulation. "We're going to go to work tomorrow and really try to focus on the next game here. A lot of good things. Try and feel good about the situation even though it's a tough week so far here."