There will be no Game 6 at Madison Square Garden on Monday, or another Stanley Cup banner on the ceiling this summer. But damn, you can't fault the effort of a team that fought to the end in five games against the Kings, who beat the Sharks, Ducks and former Cup champs, the Blackhawks.
On a Friday the 13th, under a full moon in Los Angeles, the Rangers couldn't overcome the fates in the longest Final game in franchise history.
There were so, so many close calls, starting with a phantom trip called on Mats Zuccarello near the blue line that provided the Kings with a power play on which Marian Gaborik scored to tie the game at 2 in the third period.
There's plenty of stories online with post-game player reaction from a very down locker room. all from our Newsday crew, who have been top shelf through the two-month stretch. And there's more coming tomorrow, including a look ahead at off-season decisions on free agents.
But as we wrap up form Staples Center, let's take one piece, one segment, that illustrated the intensity and opportunities in a game of inches.
On the first shift of the second overtime, Jeff Carter deflected a shot off the post.
Kyle Clifford crushed Derek Dorsett at 5:43 and was called for boarding but the Rangers couldn’t finish, despite several close calls, including when Zuccarello’s deflection of Dan Girardi’s shot hit the post.
With 10:41 left, Rick Nash’s open look, with Jonathan Quick on his back in the crease, was deflected just high by the stick of a sliding Slava Voynov.
In an intense first overtime, Lundqvist stopped 13 shots and Jonathan Quick 10. Each team hit iron. Slava Voynov was whistled for a hooking penalty just 3:54 in and Ryan McDonagh just missed winning it when his blast from the top of the left circle beat Quick and hit the far post. With 7:09 left, Toffoli’s wrister hit the crossbar over Lundqvist’s right shoulder.
Just an opinion, fans should be pleased, if heartbroken, with the run, just like coach Alain Vigneault.
"You go into his hoping that you don't regret anything," he said. "We put it
out there. We gave our best shot, best effort. Three games here all went
to OT. What can I say?...I'm very proud of our group, very proud of their effort. Both teams were battling at an unreal level."
Think about it: Four of the five games were decided by one goal. Derick Brassard: "We all feel like we want to go back out there. We had so many chances, and we couldn't put it away," said Derick Brassard.
The Rangers were 5-1 in elimination games in these playoffs. It was the 107th game for the Blueshirts, including 25 in the playoffs. Gassed. Of course, Plus, seven players went to the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February: Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis, Rick Nash, and Zuccarello
Here's a sampling of some thoughts from players:
"It's been a game of inches in the whole series," said defenseman Dan Girardi. "Bounce here a bounce there. I guess it just wasn't meant to be for us. We had a heckuva year, but this one's definitely going to leave a sour taste for awhile."
"This is a fresh wound," said Martin St. Louis, who played with a heavy heart after dealing with the death of his mom during the Pittsburgh series. "I'm proud of every guy in the room. We fought hard."
"They have a good team, they're so balanced, you have to give them credit," Lundqvist said. "But we could have won all three in this building. I said at the beginning of the playoffs, I didn't want to leave anything out there. I feel like I wanted to do everything I could to help this team, it was not enough. I've never been so tired in my life."