There were a couple of moments in Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Jets that exemplified everything going on with the Rangers right now.
There was the second period shift when Ryan Callahan broke his stick blocking a shot and then went on to block two more shots and throw a couple of body checks to keep the Jets from scoring a goal.
It was the kind of play from the captain that so often seemed to inspire his team to bigger and better things last season and it seemed like a moment where the Rangers might seize the scoreless game sitting in front of them.
A little more than a minute later, though, the Jets scored a goal and then they followed it up with another score a minute after that. The urgency and desperation that Callahan showed in his brilliant shift were left to linger in the air like the smell of a barbeque that you weren't invited to wafting past your house.
Urgency would return in the third period as the Rangers finally brought the kind of hard-charging, unyielding attack they've been missing to the table. It resulted in a Taylor Pyatt goal that cut the score to 3-2 a little more than nine minutes into the final period.
The Garden had life, the skaters had energy and the stage was set for a comeback win that could finally get things rolling downhill. And then Henrik Lundqvist failed to hold up his end of the bargain.
Evander Kane's goal 20 seconds after Pyatt scored would have been a soft goal under the best of circumstances, but it was a total gut punch under the circumstances on Tuesday night. All of the energy was gone, wiped away like a smudge on a windshield when it had briefly seemed like a tidal wave that would carry the team to a much-needed victory.
The Rangers would score again and they'd put up a good fight in the final 10 minutes, but they couldn't crack the Jets' net again. It was a better loss than the one in Montreal over the weekend and the missing bodies -- Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto -- left the team to play some overmatched guys in crucial moments, two things that are likely small consolation to John Tortorella even if he can't act that way.
Moral victories don't exist in pro sports, but a team with shaky confidence needs to have the things they do well highlighted in hopes that they become contagious. The Rangers have looked like they are close to running out of confidence in themselves over this four-game losing streak so the resiliency of Tuesday is a good sign even if the result was the same old sadness.
Build on it, hopefully with a few returning bodies, and there will be better days ahead. Or so the Rangers have to hope after yet another loss in this sprint of a season.