WASHINGTON -- The overachieving is over.
The attributes of this season's edition of the Rangers, who were eliminated by the Washington Capitals four games to one in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Saturday, were not enough.
The grinding, the physical play, the commitment to shot-blocking were all there in the 3-1 loss in Game 5. But in the end, it was the chronic weaknesses of the season that betrayed them.
There was no finish from last season's leading scorer, Marian Gaborik, who had one goal in the series. The futile power play was 0-for-2 and 1-for-20 in the five games. Without Ryan Callahan, who broke an ankle before the start of the playoffs, the Rangers could not overcome the talent, depth and size of the Capitals.
There was no bounce-back for the Blueshirts after a crushing double-overtime loss in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, when they could not hold a 3-0 lead after two periods after a season in which they were an NHL-best 29-0-0 when ahead after 40 minutes. They scored two goals in the three games in Washington.
"To play physical and get momentum, that's all well and good, but that's our main responsibility,'' Brian Boyle said. "That's like playing defense, like finishing a check. That should be a habit. We needed to score. We needed to produce more."
The Rangers vowed that they would be ready for the win-or-go-home game, but the Capitals were the ones who brought their A-game when the puck dropped.
"They really poured it on there in the first period," Brandon Dubinsky said. "You have to get out of your own zone to play offense and they had us under siege for the first half of the game, and really that was it."
In the first 20 minutes, the Caps dominated and swarmed, much as they did in Game 1 here. They were credited with 36 shot attempts: 13 on goal, 13 blocked and 10 misses.
The difference in the talent level could be illustrated in one play. With the Rangers trailing 1-0 in the second period, the dynamic Alex Ovechkin picked up a puck on the right side of center ice and turned on the afterburners in the Rangers' zone. He blew past Marc Staal, cut sharply across the slot and backhanded the puck past Lundqvist's extended right pad. It was Ovechkin's third goal and sixth point of the series.
"My first read was his speed, and when he got the pass, I should have left, I should have started retreating," Staal said. "I just didn't have enough legs to get back."
Alex Semin sealed the deal with a goal at 16:23 of the third. Wojtek Wolski ruined Michal Neuvirth's bid for his second shutout in the series when he scored with 31.5 seconds left. The Capitals scored a total of 13 goals, the Rangers eight.
"We had opportunities to really have a different story here," Lundqvist said. "In Game 1, we led in the third period, and especially in Game 4, we let it slip, and it was too tough for us to recover. They're very solid defensively. We had a tough time to really create big chances. We had shots from the side, but they made it really tough for us to get in front."
Coach John Tortorella gave a brief summation: "I don't think our team is fully built yet. You've got to remember how this Washington team was built. We're not there yet as far as talent. There are areas of our team that need to get better, so we continue to build."