The Rangers opened up their 2013 Stanley Cup playoff debut by failing to stay out of the penalty box, keep Alex Ovechkin off the scoreboard and get quality goaltending, and dropped game 1 to the Washington Capitals, 3-1.
Saturday afternoon brought a chance to return to Madison Square Garden either all even at one game apiece, or in a two-game hole.
It took 68 minutes to find out which it would be. Unfortunately the answer turned out to be the latter, as the Rangers would lose 1-0 in overtime.
The Rangers got off to a strong start, beginning the game with a spirited shift by Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan. The team was more physically engaged, throwing 58 hits in the game to the Capitals’ 50.
Henrik Lundqvist seemed hell-bent on atoning for Thursday night, giving the Rangers a stellar, 37-save performance that should have been sufficient to earn a split.
Too bad some of the other things that the Rangers needed to have click for it to, didn’t.
Discipline? Well, the Rangers did a better job of staying out of the box this time, with only two penalties that gave the Caps a man advantage. Again it would prove to be a problem. The last one, a delay of game that was called on Ryan McDonagh, would be the one that would prove costly. Mike Green’s shot from the point 8 minutes into overtime deflected off Stepan’s stick and past Lundqvist for the game winner.
Offense? In 128 minutes of hockey, the Blueshirts have scored one measly goal, and they needed a bounce off Braden Holtby to get that one. Adding Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett back into the lineup in place of Chris Kreider and Kris Newbury didn’t change their fortunes. Neither did John Tortorella playing mix-and-match with the forward combinations in hopes of finding something – anything – that worked. Once again, the power play failed. Postgame, Tortorella declared it was “too stagnant … almost paralyzed.” On both the man-advantage they received when Troy Brouwer took a slashing penalty at 16:16 of the third period and the delay of game called on Steve Olesky two minutes into the overtime, they didn’t even manage to get a shot on goal. It would be so simple to hang the proverbial goat horns on McDonagh for taking the penalty that led to the winner, but if they had been able to convert on either of those opportunities, we’re not looking at that moment and we’re probably looking at a whole different series.
It seemed almost cruel to see a red-eyed McDonagh sitting in his “Stay Positive Stay Together” Rangers playoff T-shirt as he spoke to the media afterwards. The team will need to do both of those things and find a way to finally solve Holtby fast if they don’t want to be on the golf course come Thursday morning.
About the Author: Likes: Hockey, the New York Rangers, King Henrik, singing the Rangers goal song, "The Save", the sound skates make against ice, heckling Marty Brodeur. Dislikes: 3-point games, front-office mismanagement, Denis Potvin, overpriced arena beer. Interested? Follow me on Twitter: @CC_927