- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
BOSTON -- John Tortorella may not be the most diplomatic, charming or verbose -- especially come playoff time -- but he has a true knack for diagnosing the team’s shortcomings and he spelled it out after the New York Rangers' 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night.
"We got spanked in overtime," he said.
He was right. For as much as the Rangers played a pretty well-rounded road game with the Bruins, they got absolutely pummeled in the overtime period.
Well before Patrice Bergeron set up Brad Marchand on a rush for the game winner 15:40 into OT, the Bruins dominated the Rangers with an offensive onslaught that required goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to be nothing short of perfect.
An early power play that resulted from Derek Dorsett’s interference penalty 2:20 into play allowed the Bruins to pelt the reigning Vezina Trophy winner with five shots and a post.
A strikingly different power play than the Rangers' abysmal unit -- 0-for-3 on the game, 2-for-31 in the playoffs -- the Bruins moved the puck and created a flurry of glorious chances.
New York couldn’t recover.
"We never regrouped," Tortorella said.
Entering Thursday’s series opener with back-to-back shutouts against the Washington Capitals in Round 1, Lundqvist proved he was indeed fallible.
After the game, he was left second-guessing himself on Marchand’s winner.
"There was a 2-on-1 I guess and I thought I made a bad decision," Lundqvist said. "I mean it’s a tough play, but I could play it better."
With Bergeron carrying the puck down the right wing, Marchand managed to manhandle diminutive forward Mats Zuccarello out of the way to get in front of Bergeron’s pass and tip it in past Lundqvist for the win.
"I’ve got to see the guy in the middle. I was too focused on the puck," Lundqvist explained. "I kind of knew [Marchand] was coming in the middle, but I just was too locked in on the puck, and that’s why I made a stretch move instead of coming with my pads together.
"Sooner or later when you face a lot of chances like that, you’re going to make a mistake. It’s not a mistake I’m going to sleep less over. I thought we played a solid game, but we just came up short here, in overtime, again."
Lundqvist, who made 45 saves, shouldn’t be losing sleep. He shoulders the responsibility of the Rangers’ saving grace night in and night out, but he needs help.
Overwhelmed by a furious Bruins attack -- one that included two posts and one crossbar late in the game -- the Rangers didn’t do much to help stem Boston’s surge.
"It makes it tough on our [defense], tough on everyone when we can’t get it out of our zone," captain Ryan Callahan said.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was the first to find an opening against Lundqvist, who was an absolute wall in wrapping up the Rangers’ first-round series against the Capitals.
Lundqvist lost track of the puck after Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s drive in the first, but recovered to make up for the gaffe. He couldn’t do the same on Chara’s heavy blast the next period. Chara’s shot trickled through and Lundqvist inadvertently knocked in the puck himself, ending his shutout streak at 152:23.
The Rangers tied the game with less than two seconds left in the second period on Ryan McDonagh’s first career playoff marker, and tallied another quick one on Derek Stepan’s goal 14 seconds into the third.
But, the home team responded with a power-play goal minutes later to knot the score at 2. Recently recalled defenseman Torey Krug, who drew into the lineup with a banged-up Bruins defense, unleashed a shot from the left point for the tying goal in his NHL playoff debut at 2:55.
In fact, it’s worth mentioning that all three youngsters on the Bruins' back end -- Krug, Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski -- played well in filling in for injured veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden.
"They did incredible tonight," said Marchand, who finished with a goal and an assist. "Obviously, we’re really depending on those guys to step up and play big minutes, and they all did a great job tonight. We’re very happy with them."
Bruins coach Claude Julien also praised Marchand for what he called "one of his better games so far in the playoffs."
"He skated well, made some great plays, he took pucks to the net and that’s the Brad Marchand we know,” Julien said. “It was nice to see him really bring his A-game to the table tonight."
Th Rangers needed a more stout defensive effort in their own end, but they couldn’t prevent the deluge against Lundqvist, which left the reigning Vezina Trophy winner to mull what has become a worrisome Achilles' heel.
Lundqvist is now 3-11 in overtime playoff games.
Can those overtime losses pile up and plant some doubt?
"I’ve got to be really careful to ask myself the right question there, because have I played bad in overtime? No. Can I score? No. Is it frustrating? Yes," Lundqvist said. "My record is terrible in overtime, but I’ve just got to stick with it, play my game and hopefully turn it around."
67dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald