Rangers coach David Quinn talks all the time about how “there’s a way we have to play’’ to win consistently.
This wasn’t it.
Vincent Trocheck beat Henrik Lundqvist with a forehand shot to give the Florida Panthers a 6-5 shootout victory over the Rangers in a wild game Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Frank Vatrano and Trocheck scored in the tiebreaker for Florida. Kaapo Kakko was the only Ranger to score. Artemi Panarin had his shot stopped and Tony DeAngelo’s shot rang off the post.
“I liked our first 15 minutes,’’ said Quinn, who called the game a “shootout at the OK Corral.’’
“As has happened throughout the course of the short season, when we get some goals, all of a sudden, our whole mindset tends to change,’’ the second-year coach said. “And we just have to continue to focus on playing the right way and be committed to playing defense. We get very sloppy, we get very pond hockey-ish at times, and [when] we trade chances with a team like that, rarely are we ever going to get a point.’’
They did because, after trailing 2-1 after the first period, they scored four goals and allowed two in the second.
Chris Kreider’s power-play goal late in the second period gave the Rangers a 5-4 lead, but they couldn’t make that stand up. A pair of former Rangers, Keith Yandle and Brian Boyle, combined to tie it at 5-5. Yandle fired a shot from the left point and Boyle deflected it up and over Lundqvist at 7:01 of the third period. It was his third goal of the season.
Lundqvist, making his third straight start after back-to-back wins over Detroit on Wednesday and Carolina on Thursday, made 30 saves in regulation and overtime.
“When you’re that close, you feel like you lost one,’’ he said. “It comes down to the shootout; it comes down to one save. I wasn’t able to come up with an extra save. That’s disappointing.
“It was kind of a crazy game,’’ he said. “They’re a very good offensive team. I feel like they have a lot of skill guys making plays in the ‘O’ zone. At the same time, I think we took advantage of their mistakes in their own end, so yeah, it was a different type of game for sure. Hard to play. It felt like it was a battle the whole night.’’
The Rangers are 4-1-1 in their last six games and 7-6-2 overall. Florida, which split its New York weekend after losing to the Islanders in Brooklyn on Saturday, is 8-4-5.
Rookie defenseman Ryan Lindgren’s first career NHL goal, at 5:06 of the first period, got the Rangers off to a fast start, but the Panthers scored two goals 30 seconds apart near the end of the period.
Aleksander Barkov scored to tie it at 18:13 and Dominic Toninato stuffed in a loose puck that trickled past Lundqvist to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead at 18:43.
Filip Chytil scored at 1:28 of the second period to tie it, but Florida regained the lead on Evgenii Dadonov’s power-play goal at 4:42.
Brady Skjei, back in the lineup after being scratched for Thursday’s win in Carolina, tied it again when he drove down the right side and fired a bad-angle backhand shot that deflected off a Florida player and in at 5:31.
The Rangers went ahead 4-3 two minutes later on a power-play goal by Kakko, the 18-year-old’s fourth goal of the season.
The lead lasted only 59 seconds as Vatrano roofed a backhander on a breakaway to tie it at 4-4 at 8:30. But the Rangers regained the lead one last time on Kreider’s fourth goal of the season, a deft tip-in of Adam Fox’s point shot at 18:35.