A poor start and a lack of success on the power play was too much for the Rangers to overcome in a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks Monday at Madison Square Garden.
Logan Couture scored on San Jose's first shot 1:56 into the game and the Rangers were unable to capitalize on six power play opportunities.
"When we're in the position we're in, of course when we start the game chasing, it's just so much harder," said Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed the first goal of the game for the sixth time this season. "We're trying to come out prepared. It's a nothing play, really. It's a shot and it hits our guy and it's in and after that it's uphill. There's no question about it. If we're 5-1, it might've been a little different. But right now we're looking for a good feeling. To start the game chasing, it's not easy."
San Jose would score the next three goals, including Tim Heed's first career marker before the first period ended. Joonas Donskoi put the game away with a breakaway goal late in the second period before Melker Karlsson capped San Jose's offense with a goal 2:51 into the third.
Mika Zibanejad ended Martin Jones' shutout bid with his team-leading sixth goal of the season at 4:23 of the third period.
The Rangers had ample opportunities with the man advantage, including a 25-second two-man advantage late in the first period, but were unable to capitalize on the chances.
"At some point there I think we should have just tried to get simple and put some rims behind him and try and win some battles," said Ryan McDonagh, who had a game-high 25:41 of ice time, including 6:05 on the power play. "Trying to carry the puck over the blueline wasn't working. They did a good job and that's a good penalty killing unit, but at the end of the day we've got to find a way to get adjustments and get something out of it."
Alain Vigneault said the lack of success with the man advantage "definitely a big part of" why the game went the way it did. He said he liked what the power play showed in the first period, but the second was a different story.
"In the second, our execution, especially on the breakouts, totally went away," he said. "It was not nearly good enough."
Saturday's positivity was replaced by disappointment following another game in which the Rangers felt they performed better than the score would entail. New York outshot the Sharks, 34-24 and Vigneault estimated roughly 20 scoring chances that were thwarted by strong goaltending.
The bench boss said there were good things to take from tonight's loss, but at the end of the day, more is needed up and down the lineup.
"At the end of the night, we ended up with close to 20 scoring chances, and all we get is one goal," Vigneault said. "It's not one guy, as a group we have to be better. We're ten games in here, and we're 2-6-2. Everyone in that room has got to be better than they are right now."