The day had begun the way so many recent Rangers-Red Wings matches have: with Blueshirt carnage. Defenseman Darius Kasparaitis was felled even before the puck was dropped - his left knee sprained in a warm-up collision with teammate Dominic Moore.
Another lopsided Detroit victory did not ensue, even though being down a man seemed to rattle the Rangers' defense. But disgust rather than relief was the emotion of choice among the visitors following their 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
Clearly, a Rangers season that had begun with moral victories as worthy goals now has developed into a campaign in which one-goal losses to perennial powerhouses are viewed with disdain.
"We hung in with them. That's not good enough. We don't want to `hang in' with anybody. We want to win," said Rangers coach Tom Renney, whose team failed to gain a point in the standings for the first time in eight games.
"And we want to win in a way that suggests to anybody that plays this team beyond this year, that you'd better check in and know how the Rangers are playing because that's what you're going to have to live up to," Renney added.
"That's what we're trying to develop here."
Renney wasn't going for the excuse that Kasparaitis' absence left the five-man Rangers' defense corps confused. Jaromir Jagr, however, believed that absolutely was the case. But it made the star winger feel no better.
"I don't think we played our best hockey," Jagr said. "That's what makes me upset, because we can beat even the best teams in the league. But we just didn't do it. Maybe we are close but we are not there yet."
Jagr broke down Detroit's stifling team defense with a rink-wide carry and then converted a Martin Rucinsky feed for his 29th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead late in the first. But Jagr would get no more shots on goal after that fourth one of the first period.
And, to hear Renney tell it, it was an almost lineup-wide failure to simply blast away and drive to the net for rebounds that wound up costing the Rangers the game.
It was hard to argue considering that the Rangers were outshot 27-13 over the final two periods, and considering that their other two goals came off innocent-looking shots that got past
Detroit goalie Manny Legace either because of traffic in front or because of crazy deflections.
"The only bad shot is one you don't take," Renney said, alluding to Michael Nylander's sharp-angle goal off a Ville Nieminen drive to the net late in the second and Jed Ortmeyer's slapper with 2:26 left in the game.
Nylander's goal tied it at the end of a second period in which the Rangers were badly outplayed. Ortmeyer's produced only a glimmer of hope after Brendan Shanahan's second goal of the game and Johan Franzen's redirection off one of the Wings' many odd-man rushes had given Detroit a 4-2 lead.
Alex Tanguay scored with 45.8 seconds left in overtime to help Colorado spoil Peter Forsberg's first game against his former NHL team in the Avalanche's 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
The Flyers forced overtime with a frantic final 2 minutes of regulation, getting goals from Mike Knuble and Forsberg before becoming dominated in the extra period.
The Avalanche took nine of their 34 shots in overtime and held the Flyers without a shot.
John-Michael Liles, Brett Clark and Antti Laaksonen also scored for the Avalanche, who've won seven straight games for the first time since January 2001.
In other NHL action: Dallas 2, Boston 1, SO; Montreal 6, San Jose 2; Vancouver 8, NY Islanders 1; Phoenix 4, Toronto 3; Buffalo 10, Los Angeles 1; Calgary 4, Minnesota 1; Columbus 5, Florida 4, OT; Ottawa 5, Edmonton 3.