Before Sunday's game, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault -- in a little bit of channeling of former coach John Tortorella -- specifically talked about the need for defense, that his forwards should get into shooting lanes and block more shots.
The Rangers did block 18 shots, including a career-high seven by defenseman Matt Hunwick, two off the team's season high. But nothing else, except for Henrik Lundqvist's play, was positive in the Rangers' dismal 3-1 loss to the Oilers at the Garden.
Vigneault offered a broader view. "I felt that prior to the weekend, we were on the right track,'' he said. "This game has a funny way of kicking you when you least expect it sometimes. [On Saturday night in Toronto, a 5-4 loss], we should have won. Tonight you're expecting your group to come back . . . Everyone seemed to be slow. There wasn't a lot of execution."
On a positive note . . .
Martin St. Louis found one silver lining. "We played a pretty poor game, and going into the third, we were just down by a goal," he said. "But we had spent a lot of time in our end zone, we couldn't find a way. It was one of those games we chased, and chasing gets you tired when you get it [the puck]." St. Louis, Chris Kreider and Lee Stempniak were held shotless and Kreider was whistled for a goalie-interference penalty with 4:09 left that doomed any possible last-minute spark in the quest for a tying goal. The Oilers' Teddy Purcell scored an empty-net goal with 1:27 remaining.
Perhaps the best Rangers forward was Kevin Hayes, who had legs all night, went to the net consistently, garnered an assist, tied for the game high with five shots, had three hits and was a plus-one in 16:32 . . . The Rangers again lost the faceoff battle, winning only 43 percent of the draws . . . The Rangers are off Monday, but there could be new lines Tuesday. In the third period, Derek Stepan was between St. Louis and Kreider. Mats Zuccarello was reunited with Derick Brassard and Rick Nash . . . John Moore also will have finished his five-game suspension . . . The Rangers were 0-1 on the power play.