DETROIT – Was there enough good feeling left over to absorb this one?
The Rangers blew a two-goal lead in the third period, and then blew it in overtime, losing 3-2 to the Red Wings on Friday night at Little Caesars Arena. The defeat broke the Rangers' four-game winning streak in dramatic fashion when Dylan Larkin won with 5.1 seconds remaining in the 3-on-3 extra period.
The Rangers (7-7-2) started their streak with two shootout victories in California that led to two home wins earlier this week against the Sabers and Canadiens. They were also riding the hot hand of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who had looked sharp while winning three of those games.
"It's more that we've won four in a row, Hank's played really well," coach David Quinn said before the game, with this road back-to-back completing at Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday night with the likely start of backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev. "We just want to continue to roll with Hank."
Yet as has happened in these past few years, the Red Wings (6-8-2) counted with Jimmy Howard, who was 7-3-3 with a .949 save percentage and 1.74 goals-against average in 13 previous career games against the Rangers. After an awful start to the season, Detroit had come in having won four of its past five, as well.
But by the start of the third period, the Rangers were leading 2-0. Yet a ghastly turnover from Brendan Smith resulted in a Justin Abdelkader goal just 1:36 into the period to cut the Rangers' lead to 2-1.
That made things pretty tense for the rest of the evening, and the Red Wings were able to tie it when Andreas Athanasiou burned everyone wide and then beat Lundqvist with a deft backhand, making it 2-2 with just 2:02 remaining in regulation.
Pavel Buchnevich took a bad penalty with just 1:49 remaining, but Detroit could not score on the man-advantage, nor was it carried into the overtime.
The game had started with the Rangers all over the Red Wings, but they were struggling to beat Howard. After a scoreless first, they got a great chance early in the second when Brett Howden had a breakaway, denied by Howard's left pad.
But when Red Wings forward Jacob de la Rose took a four-minute high-sticking penalty on Kevin Hayes, the Rangers got the opportunity they needed. The first goal came when Jimmy Vesey set up a good screen in front of Howard and Kevin Shattenkirk got his first goal of the season on a near-side wrist shot at 17:53, giving his team a 1-0 lead.
It was extended to 2-0 just 40 seconds later when Neal Pionk made his way through traffic, clipping the stick of Darren Helm and then snaking through Chris Kreider's legs and behind Howard for the two-goal cushion the Rangers would take into the third period.
It was the third straight game the Rangers had scored two goals in less than a minute.