SAN JOSE, Calif. — The four-game West Coast road trip didn’t get off to the best start for the Rangers, but it could have been worse than the 3-2 overtime loss they suffered to the second-year Kraken on Thursday night in Seattle.
None of the Rangers was happy with their performance against Seattle, particularly in an awful second period in which they were outshot 16-5.
But instead of coming back to practice and harping on all the things they groused about Thursday night after the game, coach Gerard Gallant went the opposite way and gave the team Friday off, maybe hoping that would relieve some pressure and relax the Blueshirts.
Gallant was bitterly disappointed with the Rangers’ showing in the second period Thursday after they played so well (a 14-6 shot advantage) in the first period.
“I thought the first period would be the toughest period on this road trip,’’ he said. “And we played great. So it’s disappointing the way we played in the second.’’
The Rangers (8-6-4) didn’t totally waste a vintage performance by goaltender Igor Shesterkin (30 saves), because they did get a point. But at the same time, they couldn’t stop thinking about what might have been if they had played better in the middle period.
They did turn things around and played better in the third, and so they gave themselves something to build on going into Saturday night’s game against their former coach, David Quinn, and the struggling San Jose Sharks.
According to Jacob Trouba, the key to picking up their game was to “go back to simple hockey. We don’t need to make the cute plays at the blue line and try to generate stuff off opportunities that aren’t there and forcing plays.
“When the shots are there from the point, just get the puck deep [and] let our forwards go to work,’’ he said. “Just get the puck through and we’ll get our opportunities that way.’’
Besides Shesterkin, what salvaged a point for the Rangers was their power play, which scored twice in four opportunities — once in the first period by Mika Zibanejad and the other by Vincent Trocheck with 1:54 remaining and Shesterkin pulled for the extra skater. That made it 2-2 and forced overtime.
Zibanejad, who has scored seven of his 10 goals on the power play and one shorthanded, conceded that the Rangers may be lacking a little confidence at the moment at even strength.
“When that conversation starts going, it gets frustrating that you can’t score five-on-five, and then maybe you might overthink it,’’ he said. “Maybe you don’t have the confidence [and you’re] maybe looking for an extra pass to make sure it’s a better opportunity than you have because you don’t feel confident that you’re going to score.
“You know, it’s little things, and it could swing so easily. I don’t think it’s going to come from being scared or thinking about it too much. We’re just going to fight through it. It goes up and down throughout the season. You’ve just got to keep working.’’