NEW YORK -- New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant blasted his team's effort in its 3-1 Game 4 loss to the New Jersey Devils, who rallied with two wins at Madison Square Garden to tie their Eastern Conference first-round series 2-2.
"Tonight was a close hockey game, but we didn't show up. We didn't play hard enough. We didn't compete hard enough. All we did was yap at the linesmen for getting thrown out of faceoffs," Gallant said. "A lot of bad things tonight."
The Rangers struggled to put pressure on rookie goalie Akira Schmid (22 saves), who won his second straight game after replacing starter Vitek Vanecek after Game 2. The Devils frustrated the Rangers with their speed, forcing them into 15 giveaways with strong play in the neutral zone.
New Jersey's first goal came on a breakaway from Jack Hughes just 2:50 into the game, after defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler cleared a loose puck from the crease to spring the center. The Rangers tied the game at 1:42 of the third period on a rebound goal by Vincent Trocheck, but Siegenthaler had the game winner at 8:22 of the third, beating Igor Shesterkin (20 saves) from the left circle. Ondrej Palat added an empty netter.
Gallant wasn't happy with the Rangers' offensive effort.
"First two games, we chipped some pucks and we had the pressure coming across. Tonight, our weakside winger was a little bit lazy and he stayed on the other side of the ice and watched the play," said Gallant, without specifying any names.
When asked if a lack of production from his star players was an issue in Game 4, Gallant said: "That was the difference. Definitely."
When the Rangers did get shots on Schmid, he frequently gave up rebounds. But the Devils played well in front of him again, controlling the puck, reducing New York's zone time and transitioning to offense.
"I liked the way we played in front of him. He gave us big saves when we needed them," Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. "The good thing about a rebound is that it means [the puck] didn't go in. So I'm OK with rebounds."
The Rangers controlled the first two games of the series, outscoring their rivals from New Jersey 10-2 thanks in part to scoring two power-play goals in each of their wins. That power play has gone dormant in the past two games, going 0-for-8 at MSG.
The action shifts back to New Jersey for Game 5 on Thursday night. Despite blowing a two-game lead, Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said his team remains confident.
"I don't really don't think there's a whole lot of panic. I don't think there's any celebration up two [wins] and I don't think there's a lot of panic now that it's tied. Like I said, it's going to be a grinding, tough series. It's what we expected," Trouba said.
After two games, many wondered if the veteran Rangers had outclassed the Devils, making their first playoff appearance since 2018. Hughes liked the way his team responded.
"They took two in our building. We wanted to come in and even the series," he said. "When you go down 2-0, that has nothing to do with experience. That has everything to do with us not playing very well."