Rangers eliminated from playoffs after Game 5 loss to Bruins
BOSTON -- The curtain finally fell on the Rangers, who were done in by a red-hot rookie defenseman, an inability to score enough to provide a cushion for goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and missing elements in the lineup and in their mind-set.
The Bruins eliminated the Rangers Saturday night, capturing their Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 3-1 victory in Game 5 at TD Garden.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said he didn't want to compare this year's club, which struggled to beat Washington in the first round and fell behind 3-0 against the Bruins, to last season's because the expectations were misplaced.
"We're a different team," Tortorella said. "You may not like it, but we still are one of the top eight teams playing at this time. We've gotten to play 30 playoff games in the last two years. Some teams would lick their chops to do that.
"You're always looking to that end goal, and some of that responsibility falls on me. The big difference in this series -- it's a big part of my job to get your top players to play consistently."
Tortorella noted that after the seven-game defeat of the Capitals, "I didn't think we were stiff enough when we got into the second round. There was never a lack of effort, but I just think there was a lack of awareness how high that level needs to be to go into the second round."
As for injuries, Tortorella said, "We don't have our [Milan] Lucic in [Ryane] Clowe, we don't have our [Zdeno] Chara in [Marc] Staal. Those are two pretty big players. It hurt our depth."
The Rangers finished at 1-for-23 with the man advantage on the road in the postseason and needed more from their top guns, Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan (four goals) and Derick Brassard (12 points), who didn't hit the scoresheet in Game 5.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in a physical first period on Dan Girardi's power-play goal. The Bruins tied the score at 1 on rookie defenseman Torey Krug's one-timer from the top of the right circle at 3:48 of the second. Krug, who had four goals in the five games, the most ever by a rookie defenseman in the NHL playoffs, ripped the puck short side over Lundqvist's shoulder.
When Rangers defenseman Roman Hamrlik, 39 -- who was pressed into service when Anton Stralman was sidelined in Game 3 -- failed to clear the zone twice, the Rangers' fourth line couldn't hold off the Bruins' fourth line and Gregory Campbell's shot ended up behind Lundqvist.
"When they scored that second goal, they got a lot of momentum," Brassard said. "They played really tight and we couldn't find a way."
Campbell's empty-netter sealed it with 50.4 seconds left.
In the third period, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made a blocker save on a breakaway by Callahan with 11:22 left in regulation. It was the Rangers' last best chance.
"We just didn't have the aggressiveness we needed to play in their zone," Carl Hagelin said. "Maybe we gave them a little too much respect. We didn't sustain enough pressure in their end and didn't make their 'D' work the way we wanted them to. It was easy for them to break it out."
For his part, Lundqvist, who made 37 saves Thursday night in a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 4 that prevented a sweep, kept the Rangers close.
"For the entire series, they come hard, they bring in a lot of guys and just go for rebounds," Lundqvist said. "A lot of goals they scored were with screens, guys in front, and they do that part of the game really well. I'm really proud the way we responded the last couple games, but I think looking at all the games here, they deserved to win."