It was a scene that we’ve seen played out so many times over Henrik Lundqvist’s brilliant career. Only this time he was unable to pull a rabbit out of his hat in last night’s 2-1 loss to Ottawa.
Facing and standing tall to numerous quality Senator scoring chances over the course of another tight game, Lundqvist kept the Rangers alive until he was finally beaten by the imagination of fellow Swede, Ottawa captain, Erik Karlsson late in regulation.
Karlsson’s shot was launched from an impossible angle, passed through three different bodies before deflecting off both Derek Stepan and Lundqvist before finding its way to the back of the net. It was a play of inches, sprinkled with a little luck made by the most dangerous skater on either team.
So, while we bow to the greatness of Hank once again, one must tip the hat and acknowledge the play made by Karlsson. On this night, he was just a little better and the Senators have a 1-0 series lead as a result.
The match lacked the ferocity that was the opening game in the Montreal series. For certain the building was not the Bell Centre with regards to the passion of the crowd. Although in fairness, I am not sure any building crackles with the excitement that is so special to the Bell Centre. What has to be somewhat of a disappointment was that the building was not sold out. Perhaps Game 2, which will be played Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., will draw a capacity crowd. I sure hope so.
[Rangers-Senators Post Game Coverage on MSG Networks]
The Senators did come as advertised with regards to a “muddy-the-waters” style, particularly as the game moved along. And yet they were still able to fire 43 shots on Lundqvist. Many of those shots were of “A-1” quality, especially in the first period when there were numerous odd-man chances for Ottawa. This Ottawa team, while developing a defensive conscious under head coach Guy Boucher, still has a number of players who are capable of making a play offensively … led certainly by captain Karlsson.
And it’s important to remember that if you are one of the teams still standing at this time of the season, there is a pretty good chance that you are playing well.
While the loss is certainly a disappointment, it’s only game one and once again it was a one-goal affair. Ryan McDonagh, Micheal Grabner and Henrik all deserve recognition for their fine play.
A few more hands on deck, a tweak here and there, and the Blueshirts will be just fine in Game 2.