You had to know this was going to be a tightly called game by the officials.
Two iffy calls, one on Ottawa’s Jason Spezza and the other on the Ranger’s Marc Staal, set the tone early. Neither team was able to muster much off their power play, although Marian Gaborik had a good chance in tight on Sens goalie Craig Anderson.
It was the best thing that could have happened to the game.
“They set the tone early with two quick calls,” Derek Stepan said, ” And I think both teams realized what the game was going to be like, that you can’t spend time in the penalty box.”
From the get go the players on both teams knew any funny business would be dealt with quickly. And because of that both teams were able to display the type of disciplined and fast paced hockey the NHL Playoffs are about.
Both goalies held the opposition scoreless after 40 minutes. If anything Ottawa carried the play and had more shots but the Rangers had better chances than the Sens. A shot that went wide by Dan Girardi deflected out front where Brian Boyle potted his third in three games. And that was the difference, in a one to nothing final.
“Overall my confidence with the puck has been better lately,” said Boyle. “Holding onto it ( the puck ) and trying to make plays.”
In the third, it was Henrik Lundqvist who had to make 14 saves to preserve the win. His biggest stop came with less than a minute to play on Kyle Turris that kept the shutout. Turris was all alone, but couldn’t get it past Lundqvists left pad. Through three games in this series the Ranger goalie has a save percentage of .951.
“We worked really hard and we were making good decisions all night and playing smart,” Lundqvist said from the Ranger room. “They had a few chances but we stayed focused and after we scored the goal we were determined to get this one.”
Craig Anderson made his share of big saves and none bigger than the one on Ryan Callahan late in the third with a glove save on a breakaway. Anderson made 22 saves and was not to blame on the Boyle goal.
“We did what we wanted to do and get a lot of pucks to the net in traffic,” Anderson said. “It just so happens that we ran into a hot goaltender. Lundqvist played pretty well and we are going to have to… get a couple by him next game.”
The momentum was on Ottawa’s side coming home. The Rangers have temporarily taken it back; if Ottawa wants to win the series, they will need to win on Wednesday. there isn’t much they can do differently, as they had more hits, more shots and won more face offs. They haven’t held a lead yet in the series, something a few goals will rectify.
“You can’t win the series without scoring goals,” Nick Foligno said. “We have to find a way to get more than two, which should be all because we have a great goaltender. It’s frustrating knowing we played great tonight but we just have to get ready for the next one.”
Wednesday could see the return of Ottawa’s captain, who sat out the game with a concussion. His offense is sorely needed.