The New York Rangers won 52 games last season and were tied for fourth best in the Eastern Conference with 110 points but will be a .500 team through the first month of this season if they lose in regulation on the road against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
New York has dropped three consecutive games, two in regulation and one in overtime to the Red Wings. All those losses came on home ice.
The Rangers gave up a two-goal advantage in the third period on Tuesday, as the New York Islanders scored three unanswered goals to claim a 4-3 victory.
Head coach Gerard Gallant provided an unusually rosy assessment of the blown lead after his team fell to 6-5-3.
“We played well. We deserved the game tonight,” Gallant said. “We didn’t get it. … I liked the way we played. We competed. We battled hard. The Islanders are the best team in the league in the third period. They found a way to get three goals in the third, but I liked the way we played most of the game.”
Gallant’s club couldn’t hold on to a 2-0 advantage against the Red Wings on Sunday. Dominik Kubalik scored the game-winner on an overtime power play.
New York now must turn things around outside of Madison Square Garden. The Rangers play six of their next seven games on the road, ending the stretch on the West Coast.
“These are games you look back on at the end of the year,” defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “Maybe they feel more important in April, but these are just as important this time of the year. So, yes, this stings. We have no choice but to regroup and get ready for the road trip.”
The Rangers’ power play produced two goals against the Islanders, while Detroit’s power play came up empty in a 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal on Tuesday. That unit went 0-for-7, even after the Red Wings were awarded a five-minute power play late in regulation.
Dylan Larkin didn’t get off a clean shot on a penalty shot in the first period.
“We had our looks. We didn’t kill momentum when we went out there. We moved the puck around and we were in the zone and got to our spots and looks,” Larkin said of Tuesday’s loss. “It just didn’t go in. We’ve scored big power play goals recently and it just didn’t happen.”
Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen made 41 saves, yet the Wings felt fortunate to come away with a point. They had a three-game winning streak snapped.
“Allen was remarkable and it didn’t feel like we were going to get that tying goal,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “The fact we did, that’s pretty good and that’s a real good point. We’ll take it.”
The Wings have gotten off to a strong start despite a growing list of injured forwards. Matt Luff was added to that list when he was slammed into the boards face first by the Canadiens’ Juraj Slafkovsky, who was given a five-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct.
“A player got seriously injured. The right call was made and everybody moves on,” Lalonde said. “It’s unfortunate (for Luff) — he’s been great for us.”
Oskar Sundqvist, who hasn’t played since Oct. 25 due to an upper body injury, is hopeful to return Thursday.
“I didn’t think it would take that long,” Sundqvist said. “It’s all good now. Trying to get one more practice with the full team and then get going again.”
–Field Level Media