DETROIT - The Rangers were exasperated; the coach was curt.
That was expected after an awful 3-2 loss to the Red Wings Saturday night in a game the Blueshirts had in hand, with a 2-0 lead deep into the second period that turned into a 2-2 tie in 61 seconds and then collapsed around them when they couldn't tie the score on two five-on-three power plays in the third.
"That's a game we gave away," Dan Boyle said. "We were in control, then we give up two goals. If you give up a goal, you've got to find a way, the next guys who go out there, to stop the bleeding."
Coach Alain Vigneault didn't name names, but cited "two very lazy backchecks" on the first two Red Wings goals, the first by Derek Stepan and the second by Lee Stempniak, before lamenting the two-man advantages of 47 seconds and 1:49 that came up empty.
"We had our top offensive players on the ice, they had an opportunity to make a statement," Vigneault said. "We might've hit a crossbar, a post, on different occasions, but at the end of the day, this game is about results and we didn't get the results."
The loss dropped the Rangers to 11-10-4. In eight of those losses, including two shootout defeats, they have been unable to protect leads.
"We were playing a really good game," said Derick Brassard, recalling a four-minute, first-period penalty kill and goals by Kevin Klein, his career-high fifth on a backhander in front, and Rick Nash's breakaway, his 17th goal, sprung by Brassard. "Even in the second, we spend some time in their end, Klein's stick breaks on a slapper, they go the other way, 2-1. Now there's a game, we knew they were going to push once and it came in the last seven minutes of the second."
Riley Sheahan's backhander in front cut the lead in half at 14:14. That fired up Joe Louis Arena and then Drew Miller went through Matt Hunwick and pushed a one-hander to Talbot, who couldn't secure the loose puck. Luke Glendenning quickly buried it at 15:15.
"If I find it a little quicker, maybe they don't get that extra whack at it," said Talbot, who made 31 saves. "It went off my pad, off my stick and just kind of laid there. I was looking down; I've gotta find that."
At 7:40 of the third, Darren Helm skated in and beat Talbot low on his glove side after Tomas Tatar's pass bounced off Brassard's stick to complete the rally for the Red Wings (16-6-5).
Brassard thought Tatar "was going to go high [over his stick], not on the ice. He kind of surprised me, and went on the ice and when I put my stick down, it deflected and helped the guy on the breakaway. Kinda lucky, but . . . "
The frustrated Rangers had no luck on the five-on-threes. "We got the looks we wanted," Stepan said. "Marty [St. Louis] hits the crossbar, Brass hits the pipe. But you have to score on the five on three." Jimmy Howard stopped everything else (17 shots after the first) and the Blueshirts went down angrily.
It was the first loss in the last six games against Detroit, but it felt like just another agonizing defeat in a vexing season.