After a 2-1 overtime loss to the previously winless Devils on Sunday, Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi summed up the state of the team, mired in an offensive drought and winless in three games.
"We're not pressing panic buttons by any means," Girardi said. "But it needs to be addressed right now. We have to stop the bleeding."
The Rangers, who are 0-2-1 after starting 3-0 and have scored two goals in the last nine periods, don't have a boatload of time to reverse the tailspin: They host the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.
Rick Nash, off to the worst start of his career when it comes to scoring goals, has none in six games. Chris Kreider hasn't scored, either. The Rangers desperately need contributions from both to halt the skid.
"I'm not pleased with our overall performance," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We've got, by my estimation, one player that's on top of his game: Henrik Lundqvist."
The comments came in the aftermath of a matinee at the Garden during which the Rangers had a solid first-period performance that they were unable to sustain. The Devils (1-3-1) tied it in the second period on Adam Henrique's poke-in at 1:52 and won it when former Ranger Lee Stempniak scored on a two-on-one rush with Henrique at 3:07 of overtime.
The game-winner came after Derek Stepan, who scored his third goal of the season 3:12 into the game for a 1-0 lead, hit the post behind goalie Cory Schneider.
In their first three-on-three of the season, the Rangers had a couple of other chances in overtime but couldn't find a way to beat Schneider, who made 26 saves.
"You think you're really close to winning the game, and instead the puck goes back the other way for another big chance," said Lundqvist, who made 22 saves. "That's the way it's going to be played. It's still frustrating and disappointing to come up with a loss here; I feel like this game was right there for us."
Ryan McDonagh, who played a game-high 25:55, agreed. "One team gets close [in overtime] and it kind of opens up for them to get a look,'' he said. "But we would have liked to try and get one there with those late power plays."
The Blueshirts, 1-for-16 on the power play this season, had two man-advantages in the third period after killing a Devils five-on-three, but Schneider held his ground.
Stempniak, who was traded to Winnipeg last March 1 and signed with the Devils as a free agent, said his team was outplayed in the first 20 minutes. "We came out in the second and had a much better start," he said. "We were better on the forecheck, we held on to the puck more."
When Henrique scored to tie it after J.T. Miller's turnover, the Devils, who had lost six straight to the Rangers, perked up.
"Their first goal lifted them quite a bit," Stepan said. "We just weren't able to get a response."
Vigneault said he doesn't believe the team's work ethic is an issue, blaming "our execution. We need to make more plays defensively and offensively . . . If I had the answer, I would have fixed it by now."