Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Rangers on brink of early exit with 2-0 loss to Sens in Game 5
By compiling 109 points and earning the No. 1 seed in the East during the regular season with a combination of grit, resiliency and timely goals, the Rangers deserved the accolades.
In the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, those numbers have meant nothing, but they will need the grit, resiliency and timely goals in Game 6 in Ottawa on Monday to prevent a shocking early exit.
Goaltender Craig Anderson was sensational tonight, stopping 41 shots as the eighth-seeded Senators won Game 5 by a score of 2-0 at Madison Square Garden to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and push the Rangers to the brink of the off-season. Game 7, if necessary, is scheduled for Thursday here.
The Rangers also suffered the loss of Brian Boyle, who has three goals, to a concussion on a late, high hit from Chris Neil 5:20 into the third period, a check that will be reviewed by the league. “He’s concussed, he’s out,” said coach John Tortorella. Boyle played three more shifts, but was not on the ice for the final 6:55.
“It hurts,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 28 saves in a valiant effort. “It’s a big game, we obviously hoped to come back and take charge. We did a lot of good things again, but it comes down to that last touch.”
It was the fourth time in the last two opening rounds that the Rangers were
blanked, twice by Washington in 2009 and once by the Capitals last April 15.
Trailing 1-0 in the third period on Jason Spezza’s first-period goal, the Rangers desperately tried to solve Anderson, but simply couldn’t finish and were 0-for-4 on the power play. Lundqvist was pulled with 1:20 to go in regulation and Spezza blocked Marian Gaborik’s pass and scored an empty-netter with 55.3 left.
Publically, the Rangers were confident. “We have to win one in their building to keep us alive instead of closing it out,” said Brad Richards, who along with Derek Stepan, had seven shots. “It’s just going to take seven games now.”
With 6:39 left in regulation, the Rangers had their fourth power play, when Milan Michalek slashed Ruslan Fedotenko’s stick. Anderson stopped Stepan, and Tortorella called a timeout with 1:18 left on the man-advantage, to no avail.
“We generated a lot of scoring chances,” said Gaborik, who had 41 goals during the season but like Richards, just one in the five games so far. “We just have to score some goals. We have to shoot everything and screen him (Anderson).”
The Rangers dominated the first few minutes of the game by driving to the net with the puck. Anderson stopped 14 shots in the first period, including three power plays, as the Blueshirts couldn’t cash in.
But at 9:18, the Senators did, as Mark Stone, the 19-year-old making his NHL debut, threaded a pass from above the right circle ahead to Spezza, who beat Lundqvist. It was Spezza’s first goal of the series and the first time that the Senators led in regulation.
With 2:15 left, Spezza threw a right to the face of Callahan as he was held in front, creating the third power play, and perhaps the worst effort by the Rangers. The Senators cleared the zone four times, and Dan Girardi’s ill-advised cross-ice pass led to an Erik Condra shorthanded breakaway. Lundqvist stoned Condra. but the period ended with an avalanche of boos from the disgruntled crowd.
In the second, the Rangers spent more time on the penalty kill (six minutes) than the power play, and Lundqvist kept it close, as he has done so often this season and others.
“It’s not a fun situation, that’s for sure,” said Lundqvist. “I still think we can make it tougher for Anderson, get more traffic…Someone needs to step up and score that big goal for us and that’s going to be the difference. This is far from over.”