WASHINGTON---From the beginning of the season, the Rangers shuffled personnel in an attempt to create a vibrant power play. Nothing worked. Michael Del Zotto, the team’s quarterback last season, struggled, and was sent to the AHL. Marian Gaborik, who had 14 power plays goals last season, had seven this year. Coach John Tortorella tried four forwards and shuffled point men, trying Gaborik, Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan and others. Bryan McCabe, acquired at the trade deadline, wasn’t the answer and the problem spilled over into the playoffs, when the Rangers were 1 for 20.
“We didn’t win enough battles on the power play and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the difference in the series,” said Brandon Dubinsky. “0 for 7, 1 for 7, we’ve got a find a way to get that moving. Tonight, (0 for 2) we changed our look and I thought it was the best it’s been all series.”
But the Capitals, who were 3 for 16 in the series, scored a power-play goal to take a 1-0 lead at 5:59 and were never tied. “When you look at teams who go deep in the playoffs, most of the time their power play gets them a big goal when they need it,” said Marc Staal. “It changes the momentum and we just unable to get them this series, and it hurt us. They’re smart when they jump and pressure the points, they don’t really give you all that much time. But you still have a man advantage you’ve got to figure out a way to get some goals.”
Defenseman Dan Girardi, part of a melee near the net after the Capitals first goal, badly dislocated a finger and played just 2:08 in the first period. He returned to play a total of 16:50. “He was our best defensemen throughout the series,” said Tortorella. “He came back….I’ll tell you, high marks for him.” …The Rangers are now 15-19 all time against the Caps in the post-season…The Rangers did not score a goal in the first period in any of the five games.