Marc Staal said right now, the Rangers are having a difficult time "finding wins."
It was there for them. After erasing an early two-goal deficit, the Blueshirts eventually overtook Pittsburgh in the third. But a goal with 55.3 seconds left in regulation evened the score for the Penguins, who would cash in on a Ryan McDonagh turnover 58 seconds into the extra period to top the Rangers, 5-4, at Madison Square Garden.
"We gave ourselves a chance going into the third all tied up," Staal said. "Got the goal we needed. Just weren't able to close it out."
With the Rangers ahead, 4-3, and Pittsburgh's net empty, Kevin Shattenkirk touched a puck to negate a hand pass against Pittsburgh, allowing Sidney Crosby to fire the puck in off Henrik Lundqvist from behind the goal and tie the game at 4.
In overtime, McDonagh was unable to hit Mika Zibanejad with a stretch pass that went for an icing. On the ensuing faceoff, McDonagh got trapped behind his net and his clearing attempt was knocked down by Phil Kessel, who fed Evgeni Malkin on the side of the cage for the game-winner.
"I should be able to make a read there," McDonagh said. "Keep it on the boards instead of trying to go through them. That was a really, really bad hockey play by me."
After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Rangers exploded for three goals in a span of 2:30 in the second period. David Desharnais got things going with his first goal as a Ranger 6:02 into frame.
The Rangers would capitalize on a double-minor assessed to Crosby for high-sticking Jimmy Vesey. First it was Pavel Buchnevich's shot from the slot that beat Matt Murray to tie the game, and just 60 seconds later, J.T. Miller fired a shot from the point through Murray for the 3-2 advantage.
Patric Hornqvist would answer with a power play goal with 1:59 left in the middle frame, but a third period goal by Michael Grabner off a pretty give-and-go with Desharnais put the hosts back in front 8 minutes in.
The late goal and eventual overtime-winner added to the frustration for a Rangers team in search of early success.
"It's really frustrating, disappointing, hard to accept," said Lundqvist, who finished with 28 saves. "I thought we battled back really well in this game, played a strong game. We played against a really good team and we made it tough for them at times throughout the game. A lot of good things. To sit here and not come up with the two points at the end with the way we played down the stretch, it hurts."
While head coach Alain Vigneault would prefer the two points, he opted to look at the positives from Tuesday, namely the way his team battled back against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
"At the end of the day, right now, it's a little challenging as far as putting the whole game together for us," he said. "But this group is very accountable and is working extremely hard and I am very confident that if we keep doing a lot of the things we're doing right now, we're going to be on the right track."