For the second time in three games, the goal that sent the New York Rangers to a loss went off the stick of defenceman Marek Malik and sailed by his surprised goalie.
Andrej Meszaros was the beneficiary Tuesday night when the Ottawa defenceman's shot clipped Malik, hit the post and went in, giving the Senators a 3-2 victory.
Malik and the Rangers met a similar fate Saturday when they were beaten in overtime by Colby Armstrong's deflected shot during a 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh. In both, the Rangers couldn't protect an early 2-0 lead.
"It's just a very tough break," Lundqvist said. "It's extra tough when it's a game-winning goal.
"We played a really good game."
But it wasn't enough for the Rangers, who went from being in postseason position at the start of the night to 11th place in the Eastern Conference. New York was passed by Carolina, Montreal, and Toronto in less than an hour and fell two points below the eighth-place playoff cutoff with 12 games remaining.
"With everything bad, there's something good," Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr said. "I believe something good is going to happen.
"We're waiting for it. You have some tough luck, but you keep fighting."
New York seemed headed to overtime for the sixth time in seven games, but instead Lundqvist lost in regulation for the first time since Feb. 24 (4-1-2).
Meszaros' first goal in 22 games put the Rangers behind at 8:48, but they nearly got even in the closing seconds. Ray Emery, who made 32 saves, stood tall to give the Senators their second win in six games and help Ottawa strengthen its hold on fourth in the East.
Emery blocked Martin Straka's backhand shot in front with 40 seconds left.
"They pulled the goalie and just threw everything to the net," Emery said. "I just tried to cover as much as I could."
Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson added goals for Ottawa, 10-1-4 in its last 15 games.
Michael Nylander scored twice and Lundqvist stopped 30 shots for the Rangers, who stormed ahead with two goals on 15 shots in the first.
"They came out strong and jumped on us," Alfredsson said. "The 2-0 was justified after the first. "Coach (Bryan Murray) wasn't happy in the first intermission, and he let us know that."
The Rangers, who had a seven-game point streak broken (5-0-2), squandered a 2-0 lead for the sixth time in 18 contests and sustained their 21st one-goal loss. Most of the advantages, including Saturday's loss, were given up in the third but Ottawa rallied earlier this time.
New York led 2-0 in each of its last five losses.
Just as Paul Mara exited the penalty box following Ottawa's first power play, Spezza scored his 26th of the season and recorded a point in his 14th straight game (eight goals, 16 assists).
Wade Redden's shot from was tipped in front by Dany Heatley and bounced off Lundqvist. Spezza found the loose puck and pushed it between Lundqvist's pads with 8:24 left in the period. Heatley stretched his point streak to 15 games (11 goals, 11 assists).
Mara took another penalty that led to a goal less than two minutes later. Alfredsson reached the 25-goal mark for the sixth time in 11 NHL seasons six seconds after the penalty expired.
After the Rangers spent most of the opening two minutes trying to get the puck away from Ottawa in their zone, Nylander gave New York a 1-0 lead at 2:46 with his first goal in six games.
Nylander struck again with 4:38 left in the period. Jagr tried to stuff the puck past Emery, but it stayed out as a scrum formed inside the crease. Nylander and Brad Isbister took turns whacking at the loose puck, before Nylander flipped a shot under the crossbar to make it 2-0.
He matched his season high for goals in a game and tied the production of his previous 16 contests.
Notes: Rangers D Karel Rachunek injured the medial collateral ligament in his right knee late in the first and didn't return. He was scheduled to be re-evaluated Wednesday . . . Heatley has 100 assists in 152 games with Ottawa . . . Alfredsson, who scored a career-high 43 goals last season, has reached the 25-goal plateau five straight years . . . New York went 0-for-3 on the power play, stretching its drought to 2-for-28.