Commentary

Rangers' playoff OT woes persist

Blueshirts' string of futility climbs to seven after 3-2 overtime loss in Ottawa

Updated: April 19, 2012, 7:45 AM ET
By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com

OTTAWA, Ontario -- The New York Rangers' 3-2 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday came with a sobering -- and staggering -- statistic. As Ottawa's Kyle Turris scored the game winner to even the series at 2-2, the team dropped its seventh straight playoff overtime game.

Not since April 29, 2007, have the Blueshirts prevailed in OT -- a daunting reminder that all the regular-season success means nothing should they continue to struggle to put games away.

"We had a lead, but it was early," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who gave up three goals on 31 shots. "We had a lot of hockey left. I don't think the game was over because we were up 2-nothing. They're a dangerous team. They kept coming."

Failing to snap the skid, the Rangers let a 2-0 lead -- thanks to power-play goals from Anton Stralman and Ryan Callahan -- slip away to a Senators squad that surged in the second period.

Limited to only one assist in the first three games of the season, scoring winger Milan Michalek tallied his first goal of the playoffs to cut the Rangers' lead in half. Ottawa's Matt Carkner, who returned Wednesday after serving a one-game suspension, emerged from the penalty box to feed Michalek on the rush at 7:04. An ill-advised Artem Anisimov penalty later in the period allowed Ottawa to knot the teams at 2-2 on Sergei Gonchar's power-play goal with 2:10 left in the middle frame.

"Bad penalty by Artie. He knew we were playing with fire there, but you're not gonna get me to say there were a lot of bad things that went on with our game," coach John Tortorella said.

Anisimov's hooking minor was one of 12 penalties assessed in a whistle-happy Game 4. The officials called the game tight, presumably a response to the Wild West atmosphere that has dominated the first round of the playoffs.

"Both teams have been warned. I'm sure the whole league's been warned about what's going on," alternate captain Brad Richards said. "It's healthy."

The Rangers were more disciplined in the third and dictated play in stretches throughout the period, but the Senators outlasted in overtime to snap their own unsightly streak. Ottawa had dropped its past seven home playoff games heading into Wednesday's contest.

Turris was denied at the doorstep by Lundqvist in the last minute of Monday's game but was able to put one past the King on Wednesday, notching his first playoff goal 2:42 into overtime.

In a tightly matched series that seems to offer little opportunity for a blowout, the Rangers know this overtime skid must not persist.

They anticipated a tough series, and facing a crucial Game 5 on Broadway, they've got one.

"It's a disappointing loss," Brian Boyle said, "but we know they're a good team."

Katie Strang covers the Rangers, Islanders and Devils for ESPNNewYork.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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