BOSTON -- For the New York Rangers, this has to feel all too familiar.
After dropping the first pair of games on the road, including Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, the Rangers are left scrambling to surmount a 2-0 series deficit to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Rangers faced the same hole in Round 1 against the Washington Capitals after Games 1 and 2 in Washington, D.C., but this Bruins team seems to possess the killer instinct the Capitals distinctly lacked.
That much was on display when the Bruins took over the game in the third period, ripping it open with a critical goal 26 seconds into play.
“We gave it to them,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said.
It was the first time this playoffs that Lundqvist gave up more than three goals and the first time he has surrendered five since April 26, 2009, in Game 6 of the Rangers’ first-round series against the Capitals.
Lundqvist didn’t elaborate on the how or the why, but he wasn’t the one that should’ve shouldered the explaining.
The Rangers struggled against the rush, and gave up far too many scoring opportunities, leaving their reigning Vezina Trophy winner prone as the last line of defense against a speedy and skilled Bruins team that exploited a strong transition game.
“I think we gave them a bit too many scoring chances,” said forward Rick Nash, who notched his first goal of the playoffs in the second period. “We can’t be giving them that many chances against our goaltender.”
Despite a strong second period, the Rangers entered the third trailing 3-2 before the Bruins quickly extended their lead just 26 seconds into play.
It was the same tandem, and virtually the same play, that sealed Game 1 and left Lundqvist stewing over his decision. After that game, Lundqvist was critical of himself for focusing too much on the player with the puck and the technical mistake that resulted.
But Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi placed the blame on himself for this one. It was a rough game for Girardi, who was on the ice for all five Bruins goals.
“On that fourth goal, I’ve either got to take that pass away or the guy, so obviously some coverage [mistakes] there,” he said.
Coach John Tortorella said both the third goal -- Johnny Boychuk’s wrister that beat Lundqvist at 12:08 of the second -- and the fourth could’ve been stopped.
Tortorella praised the team’s play in the second period but wasn’t pleased with some of those breakdowns.
“The third and fourth goals are defendable. We made coverage mistakes," Tortorella said. "Our second period is where we want to be. We can’t put it in the net. We had multiple chances to have that [fourth] goal go in, on the 2-on-2, it hurts you.”
Lundqvist, who finished with 27 saves, said the game was difficult for him.
“This game was about tracking down pucks and it was tough. A lot of late guys coming in, dragging the puck through the slot with guys in front of me,” he said. “It definitely was a tough game to play, no question.”
Tortorella defended Lundqvist when asked to assess his play.
“I’m not going to evaluate our goaltender,” he said. “We know what Henrik is.”
Marchand finished with a goal and an assist, while Bruins rookie defenseman Torey Krug tallied his second goal in as many games -- the first two of his NHL playoff career. Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask was stellar in goal for Boston, turning away 35 of 37 shots.
The Rangers had plenty of chances during the game, especially considering a slew of turnovers from the Bruins in the first half but couldn’t convert. The team’s power play also showed signs of life, but had nothing to show for it.
The Rangers were 0-for-5 on the power play, which leaves them 0-for-8 on the series and 2-for-36 in nine playoff games.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Nash said. “Especially when you’re supposed to crawl back in the game or take the lead.”
At least the Rangers can take some comfort in the fact that they have pulled themselves out of a 2-0 hole before. But, this isn’t a front-loaded Capitals team with a reputation for underachieving playoff performances. This is a confident Bruins squad that has remained largely intact since winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.
“If we’re going to win a game, and that’s all we’re looking at, we’re going to have to be better,” Tortorella said.
He’s confident that will happen.
“Listen, we don’t want to lose two games here. No one does,” Tortorella said. “But there’s no give in the team. There will be no give in this team.”