During what has been described as an up-and-down season, the New York Rangers head into Saturday night's game at Montreal off another clunker.
The Rangers, who played perhaps their best game of the season on Wednesday night when they toppled the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals, 4-1, at Madison Square Garden, followed that up with an ugly 4-1 loss at Ottawa on Friday night.
New York is a very vanilla 9-9-2 (20 points) after 20 games and in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division and hasn't been able to put together a win streak longer than two games. The Rangers had hoped they had turned the corner with the emotional win over the Capitals but fell behind just 57 seconds into the contest against the Senators in a mistake-filled performance.
"An abysmal game in so many ways," Rangers coach David Quinn said. "Give Ottawa credit. They played hard, they played smart, they won every foot race, won every one-on-one battle. At the end of the day, that's been the trend for us. When we start feeling good about ourselves, we don't do a very good job of handling it.
"This is as disappointing as it has been because I thought we were actually going in the right direction and building off a couple of really good games for us, but we're back at square one."
Asked about shuffling his lines in an effort to get things going, Quinn replied: "I wasn't happy with everybody. Everybody! The lapses were by every single guy in the lineup."
"It's been going on pretty much since the start of the season," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "We take a step in the right direction and then we have a game where we're just not ready. It doesn't matter who you're playing. Everybody is going to come after you, and you just have to be ready for it."
Lundqvist was asked if there was an answer for New York's up-and-down pattern.
"Yeah, there better be," he said. "I think it's part of understanding that you don't change your game. You have one way to play, one way to win in this league. And we show it, and then we get away from it, and then we come back to it. And until we pay that attention to detail every game, it's going to be up and down, it's going to be .500."
Montreal, which is in third place in the Atlantic Division, also comes in off a loss to Ottawa, 2-1 in overtime on Wednesday. The Canadiens are in the midst of their first three-game losing streak since last February.
Despite scoring with 73 goals in 22 games, the Canadiens have managed to score just six times during their losing streak.
"The problem lately is not that we're playing bad hockey, it's that we're not finishing," coach Claude Julien told NHL.com. "And when you don't finish, you give the other team the chance to stay in the game and eventually the things we saw (in Wednesday's overtime loss) end up happening. So that's what's frustrating. But it's not because we're playing bad hockey. Our chances are there, but we seem to have hit a wall in terms of production."
This is the first of three meetings between the two teams. Montreal won two of the three games played last season.
--Field Level Media