Well, nobody said it would be easy.
In the case of Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, taking the second series has now become a most dangerous challenge for the Rangers.
The hard-pressing Senators tied the score with only 1:26 remaining in the third period after goalie Craig Anderson had been pulled for an extra attacker.
Ex-Ranger Derick Brassard did the damage out of a mad scramble in front of Henrik Lundqvist.
The winner was delivered by Kyle Turris, whose in close shot went through Lundqvist’s legs. This was after Michael Grabner‘s apparent overtime goal was disallowed on a high stick call.
This was preceded by J.T. Miller‘s shot that beat Craig Anderson, but clanged harmlessly off the crossbar.
Perhaps the loss shouldn’t have been a complete surprise since the home team has won every one of the five contests competed so far. But this one appeared to be in the bag for the Blueshirts as they nursed the one-goal lead with less than a minute remaining
But after two emphatic wins at The Garden, the Rangers seemed to have developed a momentum that figured to carry over to Canadian Tire Center in Kanata, north of Canada’s capital city.
Employing a variety of factors, coach Guy Boucher’s outfit managed to overcome a weak start, take the lead, lose it and — orchestrated by captain Erik Karlsson — produce the tying counter when all seemed lost.
And it was Karlsson who ignited the winning goal with a stretch pass, sending the Senators into the enemy zone and the eventual goal.
OVERVIEW: Although they quickly fell behind by two goals early in the first period, the Senators just as quickly recovered. They produced one goal and forced Lundqvist into a series of spectacular goals thereafter. The home club also significantly outhit the Blueshirts. Coach Boucher’s insertion of boisterous Chris Neil evened the balance of hitting power with Tanner Glass banging Ottawa bodies on the other side.
Still, the Rangers attackers tied the count late in the second, went ahead late in the third but could not hold fast in the final minute. The Senators tying count developed from a mad scramble around Lundqvist and was credited to ex-Ranger Brassard who, previously, had not been a factor in the series.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
1. MAESTROS OF MISTAKES: The Rangers looked jittery in the first period — especially Derek Stepan — committing a number of errors right off the stick in the opening frame.
2. DEFENSE DEFECTS: New York’s blue liners had problems clearing the zone, enabling Ottawa forwards to gain several scoring opportunities. The defenders couldn’t protect the one-goal lead that led to Brassard’s tying goal. Marc Staal and Nick Holden were on the ice for the tying goal. Unfortunately, on the tying goal, Staal fell on Henrik.
3. POWER FAILURE: Having tied the score 3-3 late in the second period, the Blueshirts had a power play, but could not convert either late in the frame or in the overflow early in the third.
4. OVERTIME OUTAGE: Glass was watching Karlsson, who was behind the Ottawa net looking for a pass-receiver. He delivered a laser to the Rangers’ blue line on the right and the Rangers never were able to get the rubber out of their zone.
5. LATE-GAME HEADACHES: This marked the fourth time the Rangers relinquished a third-period lead in the playoffs.
6. HENRIK STRUGGLES: In the end, Lundqvist gave up five goals. MSG Networks analyst Steve Valiquette said he believed that there were two goals The King would have liked back, Pyatt’s first playoff goal and Turris’ game-winner.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
1. VESEY VICTORIOUS: Of all the Rangers’ forwards, rookie Jimmy Vesey stood out. His goal late in the third period was a product of tenacity and skill. The Kid is getting better by the week.
2. GRABNER’S IMPRESSIVE TWO-WAY GAME: Once thought a flash in the pan, Michael Grabner demonstrated that he really is one of the Rangers best two-way forwards and showed it again in Game 5.
TURNING POINT: New York seemed to have won the game twice in overtime. First, Miller’s shot bounced off the crossbar. Then, Grabner took a pass from Kevin Hayes, but it was ruled that the puck was put in with a high stick; hence disallowed. Next, it was Ottawa’s turn to invade the Rangers’ zone and it resulted in the Turris’ winning goal.
WHAT THEY SAID:
1. MSG NETWORKS ANALYST STEVE VALIQUETTE: “This should not hurt the Rangers’ confidence. They have to quickly put this into their rear view mirror. On Grabner’s high-stick goal that was called off, it came down to a fraction of inches. There are inches everywhere and you have to fight for them. Both teams fought for them but it didn’t work out in the Rangers’ favor. For Henrik, it will be a new day tomorrow. There’s a lot of anxiety involved in this series. The Rangers are one of the best teams to come back from a loss.”
2. DAN GIRARDI: “Recover? We play well in our building and we’ve had good efforts at The Garden. We’ll have to do it again. A couple of days off and get back to work. We showed good resilience coming back.”
3. MSG NETWORKS ANALYST RON DUGUAY: “The tempo of the game was frantic; so frantic that Derek Stepan — at one point — had to tell Henrik Lundqvist to calm down. It was a crazy sequence of possessions for the Senators. The Rangers had the game won — and lost it.”
4. HENRIK LUNDQVIST: “On the winning goal, I thought he was going to shoot high. Overcome this? We have no choice; we have to win at home. Regroup like we did last time. We battled back and then there was the scramble. On a play like that, we needed a bounce and didn’t get it. We have to do a better job.”
5. RYAN MCDONAGH: “The winning goal was a hockey play. You think the puck is going one way and it goes the other. We should have found a way to get it done. We’re not going to quit here. We’ll re-focus, get rejuvenated.”
6. ALAIN VIGNEAULT: “We played a real solid second half of the game and then they got the opportunity and the rebound. Structure-wise, I thought we had addressed the idea of their goalie out. We can’t lose another game. We regroup and get ready for the next game.”
COMING ATTRACTIONS: Game 6 will be on Tuesday night at The Garden (NBCSN). MSG Networks will have complete post game coverage.
BOTTOM LINE: A game of punch-counter, punch, all night long proved even until overtime. That’s when two splendid Rangers opportunities — Miller’s hit crossbar and Grabner’s high-stick-goal-that-was-denied — went for naught. Next came the Senators’ counterattack and winning goal. The extra day off will help the Rangers regroup and enable Lundqvist to gain more rest; and time to re-think strategy. This much is certain; the Ottawa club never quits.