Perhaps the people of Sens Nation got a little too full of themselves heading into the opening round series, and expected the New York Rangers to just roll over for the Senators. Well, a second period John Tortorella timeout and two quick strikes later, the Rangers turned a close 1-0 game into a 3-0 second period lead. That quickly turned into 4-0 early in the third, and the Rangers withstood a late Senators charge on goals by Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra to take game 1 by a score of 4-2.
There were periods of time that the Senators dominated the play, especially in the 10 minutes or so leading to Tortorella’s timme out to refocus his troops. However, the Sens didn’t get the goaltending they needed from the start. Craig Anderson looked shaky and nervous at times, and made some questionable decisions at times. Ryan Callahan’s icebreaker goal was a weak one, as Anderson lost his angle and got beat short side. There was nothing Anderson could do on Marian Gaborik’s 2-0 goal, as after Carl Hagelin picked the Senators defenseman it allowed the league’s third leading goal-scorer to walk in alone from the side and after a nice deke put it 5 hole on Anderson. Brian Boyle put the Senators in a 3-0 hole jumping on a loose puck in the slot and going top shelf to put what could have been a rescuable game out of reach in the last minute of the second period. Nick Foligno’s soft play behind his own net led to Brad Richard’s 4-0 goal early in the third, as Richards cruised in all alone from centre ice and watched Hagelin steal the puck from Foligno and he got into position for the pass from behind the net, still unmarked. Richards made no mistake and it was another one that Anderson had no shot at.
Alfredsson got the Senators on the board, tipping in Jason Spezza’s shot and Condra took a nice cross-ice feed from Foligno to make it look respectable. Game 2 goes Saturday evening back at MSG.
SENSHOT’S 3 STARS
3. Brad Richards – 1G, 6 shots to lead all players
2. Henrik Lundqvist – 30 saves, and in the second period when Ottawa was pressing, shut the door
1. Ryan Callahan – Captain was the heart and soul, scored the opener, recorded 7 hits
The turning point for me was on a late first period Ottawa power play. Brian Boyle (who has almost a foot in height and 80 lbs on Karlsson) was allowed to take 5 or 6 punches to Erik Karlsson’s face and they both get sent off for roughing. It was flabbergasting that although none of the punches were of the knockout variety it took Ottawa’s key power play figure, who did nothing other than stand there and take the punches, off the ice for the remainder of the man advantage. It was ridiculous that it was an even-up call and set the tone for the game.
The Senators definitely didn’t have their “A” game going. Perhaps it was a bit of nerves, but they had problems making solid passes and the puck always seemed to be in the players’ skates. New York plays a pressing style, and you don’t have time to find pucks in your feet, or you will be laying on the ice.
Ottawa did nothing in this game to make me think that they are going to lay down and give up. It was a game where the Rangers got a couple of bounces and a couple of calls going their way. However, if Ottawa can’t figure out how to make the Rangers’ shot-blocking aptitude work against them, especially on the power play, they have no chance. Faking shots to get the sliding Rangers out of the way and walking around them is one way to do it. Another is to shoot around those shot-blockers and have forwards in position to deflect those errant shots at Lundqvist.
Even with the win, the Rangers know they are in for a hard-fought series, as this game was closer than the score would indicate.