Martin St. Louis played his best game of the season Monday night, scoring twice, stealing pucks and playing 21:52 in the Rangers' 4-3 shootout loss at the Garden that Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said "was like three different hockey games."
Actually, it was like five.
There were three distinct periods -- the first dominated by the Rangers, the second by the Blues, and an even third period with four goals, two for each club.
The Rangers had a power play in overtime but couldn't finish. Then Alex Steen and Vlad Tarasenko beat Rangers goalie Cam Talbot in the fifth element, the shootout, and only Lee Stempniak could score against Blues goalie Brian Elliott.
It was the Rangers' second straight loss in the one-on-one contest. The Blues (7-3-1) won their fifth straight game overall.
"We know the type of adversity we are facing, going into the season without Step [Derek Stepan] and with [defenseman Dan] Boyle getting hurt the first game of the year," St. Louis said. "Every game is a battle and we are trying to find a way. And we have, we have come back."
St. Louis didn't mention the rest of the injured Rangers. The Blueshirts (5-4-2) were without three other defensemen -- captain Ryan McDonagh, expected to be out three to four weeks with a separated shoulder; Kevin Klein (bruised foot) and John Moore (five-game suspension) -- as well as Mats Zuccarello, scratched because of a lower-body injury. Dylan McIlrath and Conor Allen were summoned on Monday to fill the gaps.
Nonetheless, the Rangers hung in with the Blues, ending regulation tied at 3. Rick Nash just missed winning it 45 seconds into overtime with a shot that rang off the post and was snatched by Elliott (36 saves).
"In the third period and overtime, we really gave ourselves a chance to win this game," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We put our foot on the gas and played hard. We're playing some solid hockey right now, but at the end of the day, this is about winning games."
St. Louis scored his second goal at 13:17 of the third, depositing Nash's pass to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. Jay Bouwmeester tied it at 14:33 on a wrister.
"Our turnovers fed their offense," Nash said. "It's good we got a point, but we should have had two."
Stempniak scored in the shootout, but Elliott stopped Nash and St. Louis. Tarasenko, who scored a highlight-reel one-hander in the first, had the decider in the shootout.
"Steen's went off my arm and in," said Talbot (31 saves), "and the second one, Tarasenko's pretty shifty, but I thought I played it pretty well and he just made a nice shot over my pad . . . It's more frustrating that we didn't get the second point. We have to find a way to win the close games, and that starts with me."
The Rangers outshot the Blues 15-4 and took a 1-0 lead in the first when Chris Kreider scored only their third power-play goal of the season.
The Blues tied it in the second and scored twice in the third, with one of the goals caroming off three players.
"When something like this [all the injuries] happens, you grow as a team," Marc Staal said. "It makes you a better player and a better team. For large portions of tonight, we played a solid game."