A flat start and an early deficit already seemed like a 1-2 punch to the Rangers from the outset, but then there came the simultaneous penalties on a play early in the second period. It was a night where the Rangers simply could never quite pick themselves up off the mat.
The Blueshirts played their second-to-last home game on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Ottawa Senators. Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith scored first-period goals for the Senators, who were also playing their third-to-last game of 2018-19 and won for the fourth time in six games.
Lias Andersson scored the first shorthanded goal of his career in the second period, but it wasn't enough to propel the Rangers back in the rubber match of their three-game season series with the Sens.
"We were just flat. Very, very flat. Not a lot of emotion, not a lot of passion, not a lot of enthusiasm on the bench," David Quinn said. "Through difficult times, I thought we've handled the situation well for the most part. We've had moments in games where we've been flat and didn't have a lot of emotion. But it hasn't gone that long."
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves for the Rangers in his final home start this season - Quinn said Alexandar Georgiev would get the call in the home finale on Friday against Columbus, with a discussion and a decision still forthcoming on Saturday's season finale in Pittsburgh. "It would have been nice as a group to get a win, but also personally," Lundqvist said, knowing that he won't play again in front of the Garden faithful until the fall.
Video: OTT@NYR: Lundqvist, Lemieux keep the puck out
But it was a tough home finale for Lundqvist, with the Senators getting six power plays and scoring on two of them, including that second-period 5-on-3. "I feel bad for him," Quinn said of Lundqvist, "because we certainly didn't give him a chance tonight."
Amid the loss were a couple of eye-opening moments from Andersson during the rookie's 12:11 of ice - none more impressive than his skillful finish on his shorthanded goal 4:52 into the middle period, during the back end of Ottawa's 5-on-3. Andersson burned Thomas Chabot, Ottawa's second-year defenseman and leading scorer, down the middle without the puck, then reached out to reel in Vlad Namestnikov's lead pass and put a slick deke on Anders Nilsson (27 saves), tucking a forehand between post and pad for not just his first shorthander but his first special-teams goal of his young career.
Andersson became the first Ranger 20-year-old to score shorthanded since Niklas Sundstrom in October of 1995. Namestnikov and Brendan Smith, flipping back to the blue line for the penalty kill, had the assists.
Video: OTT@NYR: Andersson dangles for SHG on the rush
"That was a great goal by Lias - Lias had some great moments tonight," Quinn said. "We had a few guys who I thought came to play," the coach added, "Lias was certainly one of them."
It was Ryan, though, who got the game's first goal on the first power play 12:14 in, slapping home a pass out of the corner from Chris Tierney for his 15th goal. Smith scored shorthanded just 1:15 later, finishing a two-man combo up the ice with Magnus Paajarvi.
It was only the fourth shorthanded goal the Rangers had allowed all season, tied for sixth-fewest in the NHL.
Brendan Lemieux saved a goal 2:55 into the second, when Tierney was turning in the crease with the puck on his stick and all the net in front of him, and Lemieux came swooping in to tap the puck back under Lundqvist. The bad news came once the whistle sounded: Each referee had detected a hooking penalty on different Rangers amid the scramble in front, and so Lemieux and John Gilmour went to the box together, and Ottawa was set up with a golden chance to stretch its lead.
Brady Tkachuk did just that, after Chabot's shanked one-timer got caught up in skates in front and Colin White made a nifty kick over to Tkachuk for a tuck-in and the 22nd goal of his rookie year.
Andersson scored on the second minor just 61 seconds after Tkachuk's goal, but the hole was too deep for the Rangers. Pavel Buchnevich - in the lineup after being a gametime decision, and with points in his last seven games coming in - came inches from whittling the lead to one when he smacked one off Nilsson's goalpost in the last four minutes of the second. But Brian Gibbons scored the putaway goal with 5:02 to play off a steal and a 2-on-none.
"I think this is one you need to learn from, this is not one where you say this was not our night and wipe it away," Kevin Shattenkirk said. "It was one that we never really got back to playing the way that we know how, and never really gave ourselves a chance to see if we could come back in a game against a team like that, because we didn't play our game at all."