Rangers blow lead in ugly loss to cellar-dwelling Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Rangers dropped three of four games on a West Coast swing, but still managed to stay atop the Metropolitan Division standings.

It was rocky and rugged, like the mountains they flew through as they traveled from city to city, and just like the past seven weeks had been.

But the Blueshirts' two-goal lead crumbled in a 3-2 overtime loss to the basement-dwelling Sharks on Tuesday night, capping off the final stretch of the season in the most disappointing way.

“We wanted to finish this road trip strong and we didn't,” said Adam Fox. “It's a shame for sure. Nobody's happy. We have two more games before the break so we have to turn things around and get some momentum.”

Defeating the Kings in a penalty shootout in Los Angeles and then impressively defeating the last-place Sharks, who were playing on the second night of back-to-back games, was what was expected of this Rangers team.

Tomas Hertl scored the winning goal off Igor Shesterkin as the Rangers lost 3-2 to the Sharks in overtime. NHLI (via Getty Images)

But for a team that has been disappointing lately, the Rangers needed to come out on the right side of this team.

It was a mixed trip with more disappointments than progress.

A 5-1 loss to the Golden Knights, followed by a 2-1 loss to the Kings, only heightened the concerns surrounding the Rangers, who have been playing .500 level hockey since December 5th.

Sunday's matchup in Anaheim looked much the same at first.

Adam Fox, who scored in the first period, had a shot in the second period that the Rangers lost. AP

That was until the Rangers' four-goal rally in the third period not only took the game away, 5-2, but also reminded the team of their resilience.

The Rangers entered the third period with a 2-0 lead on goals from Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin, and watched that lead disappear less than five minutes later.

Nico Sturm intercepted Erik Gustafsson's pass behind the Rangers' net, and the Sharks forward banked the puck from Igor Shesterkin into the goal, cutting the visitors' lead to 2-1.

Artemi Panarin (left) celebrates after scoring a second-period goal during the Rangers' loss. AP

Just over two minutes later, Ryan Carpenter did what most former Rangers do and tied it on a deflection for essentially the entire remaining period of the game.

It was Carpenter's third goal of the season and second against the Rangers.

Vincent Trocheck, who was just announced as the Rangers' second All-Star in Toronto, recorded his 300th career assist with the Rangers' first goal of the game at 7:55 of the opening frame.

Trocheck sent the puck in front of a crowded net, teeing up Fox and driving it home for a 1-0 lead.

Less than two minutes into the second period, the Rangers doubled their lead when Panarin skated across the zone, weaved through traffic and flicked the puck into the back of the net.

Much of the center field was devoted to special teams, but neither club was able to capitalize on the man advantage all night.

Despite getting a power play with less than six minutes left in the game, the Rangers were unable to capitalize.