NEW YORK -- The sight of a dejected Henrik Lundqvist, sunk back in his stall digesting his team’s latest loss, has become a scene all too familiar for the Rangers lately.
Seven games into a nine-game homestand and the Blueshirts have still managed only one mere shootout win following Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the Islanders.
Lundqvist, looking more somber and subdued each game, sounded despondent in the team’s latest defeat.
“There’s no question we beat ourselves,” he said.
The Blueshirts have shown some moxie in doses during this difficult stretch -- Friday marked the third straight game in which they erased a two-goal deficit -- but there won’t be any back-patting for a comeback effort against a team toiling at the bottom of the standings.
Though the Rangers rattled off three straight goals after falling behind 2-0 in the first period, they couldn’t build on a lead or capitalize on the three power-play opportunities they had in the final frame against the Islanders.
And on the other end, their former Vezina Trophy winner couldn’t deliver the type of game-saving stop the team has been lacking of late.
“In the end I can’t give up four goals on 19 shots,” he said. “I have to be better.”
Against a sputtering Islanders team that had entered Friday’s match with only one win in the last 14 games, the Rangers let them take charge and snap a 3-3 draw in the third.
The Rangers have now given up four goals or more in six of their last seven games. Lundqvist has been in net for all of those contests.
“I’m sure he tried the best he could,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “He just couldn’t make the saves.”
To be fair, the penalty shot he surrendered to Cal Clutterbuck in the first period was a highly suspect hooking call against Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. And it seemed like almost all of the chances he faced throughout the game were Grade-A scoring opportunities.
But the Lundqvist of years past made the sort of jaw-dropping saves each game to stymie his opponents, frustrating them to no end. This Lundqvist, who recently inked a seven-year, $59.5 million contract extension, is not looking like that same guy.
“As a goalie, you try to battle and be there to make those saves to stay confident,” Lundqvist said. “I needed to make those saves in the first and it kind of set the tone for the whole game."
“Try” and “effort” have been popular buzz words for the Rangers as they have stumbled through this homestand, but they haven't done anything to help the team gain needed traction in the Eastern Conference standings.
Even the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that fired its coach three games into the season, have elbowed their way into the playoff picture. The Rangers remain stalled in 11th place.
“I think when you outwork teams you will find the bounces start going your way,” said winger Rick Nash, who finished the night with an assist. “So we’ve got to work. You’ve got to make your own luck. You’ve got to work for your bounces.”