SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Rangers lost three of four games on their west-coast swing and still managed to stay atop the Metropolitan Division standings.
It was rocky and rough, just like the mountains they flew through to get from city to city, and just like the last seven weeks have been.
The two-goal lead the Blueshirts blew en route to Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the basement-dwelling Sharks, however, capped the last long trip of the season in the most disappointing fashion possible.
“We wanted to close this road trip out strong and didn’t do that,” Adam Fox said. “It’s definitely disappointing. No one’s going to be happy. Two more games here before the break, so got to turn it around and get some momentum there.”
Handily defeating the last-place Sharks, who were playing on the second night of a back-to-back slate after beating the Kings in a shootout in Los Angeles, is what was expected of this Rangers team.
For a team that has fallen short of expectations lately, however, the Rangers needed to come out on the right side of this one.
It was a mixed bag of a trip that included more disappointment than progress.
A 5-1 loss to the Golden Knights and the 2-1 loss to the Kings that followed only piled on to the growing concerns surrounding the Rangers, who have been playing .500 level hockey since Dec. 5.
Sunday’s matchup in Anaheim first appeared to be much of the same.
That was until the Rangers’ four-goal third-period rally not only stole the game, 5-2, but reminded the team of their resilient capabilities.
Carrying a 2-0 lead into the third period, on goals from Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin, the Rangers watched it vanish in less than five minutes.
Nico Sturm intercepted an Erik Gustafsson pass behind the Rangers net before the Sharks forward banked the puck off Igor Shesterkin and in to cut the visitor’s lead 2-1.
Just over two minutes later, Ryan Carpenter did what most ex-Rangers do and evened the score on a deflection with essentially a whole period left to be played.
It was Carpenter’s third goal of the season and his second against the Rangers.
Vincent Trocheck, fresh off the announcement that he would be the Rangers’ second All-Star in Toronto, recorded his 300th career assist on the Rangers’ first goal of the game at the 7:55 mark of the opening frame.
Sending the puck in front of a crowded net front, Trocheck teed Fox up to jam it home for the 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes into the second period, the Rangers doubled their lead after Panarin skated across the zone and ripped the puck through traffic to the back of the net.
Much of the middle frame was dedicated to the special teams battle, but neither club could capitalize with the man-advantage throughout the night.
Even when they earned a power play within the final six minutes of the game, the Rangers couldn’t capitalize.