Playoff failure is déjà boo for Rangers

St. Louis was among the league leaders in scoring when the Rangers gave up team captain Ryan Callahan and a bounty of draft picks to get him after he demanded a trade from  Tampa Bay Lightning, and although St. Louis was good in the Rangers' opening series against the  Philadelphia Flyers, he was nearly invisible against Pittsburgh last night. He managed only one shot on goal, and it didn't come until the third period.

That was the same period in which the Rangers squandered a goal by Mats Zuccarello that narrowed the Pens' lead to 3-2 by giving up a goal to Chris Kunitz just 57 seconds later, quashing any thoughts of a comeback.

The way that goal happened was galling, too: The Pens' Evgeni Malkin set it up by beating the Rangers' Marc Staal to the puck behind the net, then holding off Staal and another Ranger with his left arm and finding Kunitz for a quick shot that deflected off Staal's skate, by Lundqvist and into the short side of the net.

Once again, Lundqvist could only slump in frustration.

Brad Richards, another Rangers forward whose best postseasons were spent somewhere else, was right when he categorically rejected the suggestion that the Penguins had more to do with the Rangers' sloppiness in Game 4 than the Rangers did.

"No," Richards insisted. "It was us."

Vigneault -- who had called Game 4 just short of a "must-win game" -- admitted it was "a bad night of the playoffs to have a bad game."

"For whatever reason tonight, our execution with the puck wasn't there," Vigneault added. "Can't explain it. Nothing we can do about it except go on to Pittsburgh and the next game."

Don't be surprised if this series doesn't come back to the Garden.

Vigeneault has now tried calling out his stars with his "Put on your big boy pants" remarks after Game 2, and he's tried massaging their bruised egos. Neither has worked.

The Rangers have gotten to another postseason in which they can't score, can't count on their stars other than Lundqvist and can't take advantage of having one of the best goaltenders in the game for yet another season.

When asked what bright spot he sees as they all now head off to Pittsburgh, Richards shrugged and said, "The positive thing, in my opinion, is we're still alive in the series."

Not for long.

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