Laurent Brossoit #39 of the Vegas Golden Knights defends the...

Laurent Brossoit #39 of the Vegas Golden Knights defends the net during the first period Adam Fox #23 and Kaapo Kakko #24 of the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Playing their 10th game in 17 days, the Rangers looked pretty good for a while Friday night against another of the NHL’s elite teams, the Vegas Golden Knights.

But after a dominant second period in which they took a one-goal lead, the Blueshirts were stung when former Ranger Brett Howden won an offensive-zone faceoff and set up Dylan Coghlan’s tying goal.

After an exciting but scoreless overtime, Jonathan Marchessault scored the only goal in the shootout to deal the Rangers — and his old coach, Gerard Gallant — a 3-2 loss at Madison Square Garden.

Afterward, the Rangers (19-7-4) tried to talk about the positives, that they had again played well against a top team, as they did in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.

This time they even earned a point, and their 42 points are the second-most in the Metropolitan Division.

"I think we’ve shown flashes in every game,’’ Chris Kreider said. "The challenge for us is putting together the full 60 [minutes]. Our start wasn’t good tonight, we knew that. We can’t blame the travel, can’t blame the schedule. Everyone’s traveling a lot, everyone’s got a crazy schedule, everyone’s a little bit run down.’’

The Rangers played without Artemi Panarin, who suffered a lower-body injury in Wednesday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes, but they took a 2-1 lead into the third period on goals by Mika Zibanejad and Kreider after one of their best periods of the entire season.

"I come in after the second and I said if we match that period again, boys, there’s no contest,’’ Gallant said. "We’re going to win this game 4-1. We played really well. We had lots of chances.’’

But they couldn’t keep it up in the third.

They were outshot 10-2 in the period, and Howden — who also scored Vegas’ first goal at 6:49 of the first period — beat Zibanejad on the draw to set up Coghlan for a shot from the right point through traffic that got past goalie Alexandar Georgiev at 14:44 to tie the score at 2.

Gallant said the Rangers did not play well in the first 15 minutes of the first period but thought they did a good job the rest of the game, though he did say his team probably laid back too much trying to protect the lead.

"You try and keep pushing, going forward, but you’re also saying, ‘Let’s try not to pinch too much, let’s try not to make those mistakes,’ ’’ he said. "And that’s what happens. They won a faceoff and scored a goal.’’

Gallant tried to downplay coaching his first game against his old team, which he led to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018 in the Golden Knights’ first season. They fired him two years later in January 2020.

"It’s your old team, [but] it wasn’t like it was two months ago. It was two years ago,’’ he said.

"I know a lot of players over there very well — half their team, probably — that’s still left from when I was there. So it was fun.’’

After Vegas held the territorial edge for most of the opening period, the Blueshirts began to generate more good scoring chances after killing a penalty to Zibanejad in the middle of the period.

They tied it at 1 when Zibanejad ripped a wrist shot by Vegas goalie Laurent Brossoit 13 seconds into the second period.

With Vegas’ Nicolas Roy sitting out a slashing penalty, Zibanejad sent a seeing-eye diagonal pass from the left-wing boards to the far post, where Kreider tapped it in for his 18th goal of the season and a 2-1 lead at 10:25 of the second.

Zibanejad said he tried to do a little bit more because Panarin was out of the lineup.

"When a guy like that is out,’’ he said, "you feel like you — at least I feel like I have to do maybe a couple more percent out there and try to help out as much as I can.’’

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