There’s no good way to describe tonight’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Red Wings.
The Blueshirts controlled play for the second half of the first period and their hard work paid dividends when Jimmy Vesey made a great play behind Detroit’s net.
Vesey passed the puck to a streaking David Desharnais, who promptly deposited the disc past Jimmy Howard for the 1-0 lead.
Detroit pushed back in the second period and a goal by Andreas Athanasiou tied the game at one.
Then came the third period.
2:35 into the final regulation frame, Boo Nieves made a terrific pass to rookie Vinni Lettieri — who made his NHL debut — and Lettieri sniped the puck past Howard for the go-ahead goal; the first of his NHL career.
Unfortunately a Boo Nieves turnover four-and-a-half minutes later led Red Wings’ captain Henrik Zetterberg to tie the game at two.
From there the teams battled back-and-forth, struggling to gain the upperhand.
Some shoddy officiating kept the Rangers on the penalty-kill for much of the final quarter of the third period. But the Blueshirts’ penalty-kill was up to the task as they killed off every penalty.
The game headed to overtime with the 7th Avenue Skaters still killing off a questionable Detroit power-play.
From there the Rangers controlled the extra period.
The Blueshirts had chances galore but couldn’t finish of the Red Wings; not even a Brady Skjei penalty shot was able to bring them victory.
Then came the shootout and the end of the game.
Long-time Rangers’ enemy Frans Nielsen scored a goal to open the shootout — the only goal of the skills contest — and the Red Wings won 3-2.
Head Coach Alain Vigneault summed it up after the game by saying: “We had chances and just didn’t finish.”
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
MAGNIFICENT DEBUT: Vinni Lettieri was called up from Hartford when Chris Kreider was shelved with a blood clot in his right arm. Lettieri became the first Ranger to score in his NHL debut since Derek Stepan turned the trick against Buffalo on October 9, 2010.
MYSTERIOUS TREND: The Blueshirts and Red Wings are used to going beyond regulation against each other. Six of nine, nine of 15 and 10 of the last 18 contests between these teams has gone to overtime.
BOTTOM-SIX=TOP-SIX: Both Rangers goals were scored by players skating on the third and fourth-lines.
BANKING POINTS: The Blueshirts have earned at least a point in six of seven and eight of 10.
The Rangers face Jack Eichel and the Sabres Monday (Jan. 1) at Citi Field in the NHL’s annual Winter Classic. Game time: 1 p.m. ET. Broadcast: NBC.
For all the times that the Blueshirts have been outplayed recently and still got a point, this one has to feel weird.
For a majority of the game the Rangers outplayed Detroit; and they were still pushed to a shootout. And they continue to struggle in the glorified skills contest.
This is one game that is best to just put behind you and move on.