Opening-night flop for Sens
The Ottawa Senators took on the New York Rangers during the opening game of their playoff series at Madison Square Gardens in New York City Thursday April 12, 2012. Stu Bickel from the New York Rangers pushes Jim O'Brien from the Ottawa Senators during first period action Thursday night in New York. The Rangers defeated the Senators 4-2. Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency
Opening night on Broadway was a colossal failure for the Senators.
After arriving in the Big Apple confident they could get off on the right foot in their first-round series against the Rangers, the Senators were left red-faced in a 4-2 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern quarter-final.
The Senators didn’t beat Henrik Lundqvist until they were down 4-0. Only Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra were able to beat him with the game well in hand for the Rangers.
Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan scored for the Rangers as they ran roughshod over the Senators and certainly made them look like the No. 8 seed they went into the playoffs as.
Alfredsson knows the Senators have to dig down deeper Saturday.
“They did a better job on their forecheck than we did forcing turnovers. That’s the biggest difference,” said Alfredsson. “Those led to goals directly. When we forced turnovers, we weren’t as opportunistic.
“We realize the way we need to play. It was nice to get a couple of goals in the third to make us feel better but we know we have to be better on Saturday. We’ve one day to regroup and get ready.”
It’s easy to blame goalie Craig Anderson, but he didn’t get any help in front of him as the Rangers roamed free in the Ottawa zone.
The Rangers served noticed to the Senators that the team that pays the price is going to win the series. New York used its physical force to hit just about everything wearing a white sweater.
Defenceman Chris Phillips said the result was disappointing.
“We’d love to have gotten the win,” said Phillips. “We’re down one now, we played pretty hard in the third and got a couple of goals. We’ve got to build off of that.”
Top forwards Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Kyle Turris, Nick Foligno, Colin Greening and Alfredsson all had difficult nights. The Senators had little in the way of the jump or spark they needed for a return to the playoffs.
Spezza said the Senators aren’t going to get a moral victory just because they scored late.
“We lose the game, so we’re not happy with it,” said Spezza. “But there’s things we can learn from it. I don’t know if you’d call them positives. There’s little lapses in our game that we can learn from.”
The Senators were in a huge hole after 40 minutes.
While they had outplayed the Rangers through the early part of the second period, Lundqvist was a like a rock and New York capitalized on every mistake the Senators made to pull out to a 3-0 lead.
A late goal by Boyle from the slot turned out to be the killer for the Senators. He fired a shot from the slot that beat Anderson high on the stick side at 19:06.
Only 2:42 earlier at 16:24, the Senators looked terrible as Gaborik was allowed to skate untouched off the boards to beat Anderson through the five-hole. Sergei Gonchar had no stick and rookie Jared Cowen was caught out of position.
That was just after John Tortorella took a timeout and read his club the riot act.
The Senators went 0-for-3 on the power play. They had a hard time creating any chances against the Rangers, who have one of the best penalty-killing units in the league. Not many shots got through.
Coach Paul MacLean said there is plenty of work to do.
“When you lose a game you can always be better in all areas and all zones of the rink,” he said. “There really weren’t any surprises. We have to play better.”