Commentary

Rangers go from ecstasy to agony

Three days after dramatic win, Blueshirts were steamed after their Game 4 loss

Updated: May 5, 2012, 7:31 PM ET
By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Contrasted with the elation and euphoria that permeated the Rangers' dressing room following Wednesday night's triple-overtime win over the Capitals, it was a starkly different mood after the team's spirit-sapping 3-2 loss on Saturday.

Tensions were high and expletives unleashed behind closed doors as the Rangers dealt with the aftermath of their Game 4 defeat, one that allowed Washington to tie the series at two games apiece.

[+] EnlargeMarian Gaborik
Geoff Burke/US PresswireMarian Gaborik scored for the second straight game, but that didn't make him feel any better when the final horn sounded.

Defenseman Dan Girardi was willing to address the controversial second-period hit he sustained from Caps star Alex Ovechkin, but any other questions posed about the game's officiating were quickly shut down.

"I don't want to talk about penalties," said alternate captain Brad Richards.

Following Ovechkin's two-minute charging minor for his high hit on Girardi, the Rangers were clearly not pleased about a number of calls that went against them in the third period.

Carl Hagelin was exiled to the box for a questionable slashing penalty on Caps defenseman John Carlson, which resulted in Mike Green's go-ahead power-play goal 27 seconds later with 5:48 left in regulation.

Just moments before the puck beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan appeared to get tripped up by Washington's Brooks Laich.

After Green scored, Callahan turned to the official and lifted his arm in frustration.

He would not discuss the call after the game, however.

"I don't know. I don't need to comment on it now," he said. "It's not going to change anything."

Later in the third, the team was denied a power play after Caps veteran Mike Knuble appeared to sail the puck over the glass into the crowd. No delay of game penalty was assessed.

When asked if he wanted to comment about the officiating after the game, Rangers coach John Tortorella was, not surprisingly, tight-lipped.

"No," he said.

The coach has been fined on two separate occasions -- $50,000 in total -- for critical comments about officiating. In a short postgame news conference, Tortorella said this about the game:

"They gained momentum from their power play."

The loss signified a big shift in momentum in the tightly contested Eastern Conference semifinals. With a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead after Wednesday's morale-boosting win, the Rangers had to erase two one-goal leads through the first two periods.

Artem Anisimov finished with a goal and an assist, tallying the second-period equalizer 70 seconds into the middle frame. Later in the period, he raced down a puck on a potential icing call and shoveled it in front for sniper Marian Gaborik's second goal in as many games.

The Capitals' stars brought their best, though, and it was enough to power past the top-seeded Rangers.

Led by an outstanding performance from Nicklas Backstrom, not to mention key contributions from the team's other "young guns" (Ovechkin, Green, and Alexander Semin), the Capitals knotted the series 2-2 with the two clubs heading back to New York for a pivotal Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

"Two good teams are playing. [The Capitals] aren't just going to lay down and give it to us. I think they came out way more aggressive," said Lundqvist, who surrendered three goals on 26 shots. "I don't really have a good explanation -- we're playing good teams. It's going to be a battle until the end."

Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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