Moments after the Washington Capitals secured a dramatic 1-0 overtime victory over the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon, defenseman Ryan McDonagh was escorted out of the visitor’s dressing room with his eyes hidden and a public relations official by his side. He wasn’t ready to face reporters yet.
In his place, Rangers center Brad Richards wanted to make sure blame was assigned correctly, even after McDonagh’s delay-of-game penalty gave the Capitals a power play that ended with Mike Green’s winner.
“Sometimes you just need a goal,” he said. “There’s a thousand things we can go over in a 0-0 hockey game going into overtime, but it comes down to just scoring a goal and making a big play and we didn’t get that.”
New York’s shortcomings on offense have become a yearly story line during the Stanley Cup playoffs, and it’s once again why the Rangers are headed to Madison Square Garden down 2-0 in the series.
Since forward Carl Hagelin scored 16 minutes 44 seconds into the first period of Game 1, the Rangers have gone more than 111 minutes without a goal.
On Thursday night, it was the result of a brilliant performance by Capitals netminder Braden Holtby.
Saturday, New York simply couldn’t generate enough quality scoring chances, at even strength or on the power play.
The Rangers mustered only five shots on goal in the third period and overtime, including none on a power play in the extra frame. New York is 0 for 7 with the man advantage through two playoff games, and the latest clunker wasted a strong showing by goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
“We’re just stagnant. We’re almost paralyzed,” Rangers Coach John Tortorella said about his power play.
Winger Rick Nash was supposed to remedy New York’s scoring issues when he was acquired in a blockbuster offseason trade from Columbus.
But he and Richards — last year’s pricey acquisition — haven’t registered a point through two games, although Nash did have a shot that beat Holtby but hit the post in the third period Saturday. The Rangers traded forward Marian Gaborik, who had 41 goals last season, at last month’s trade deadline.
Tortorella hoped switching his lines before the third period of Game 2, moving Nash alongside captain Ryan Callahan and center Derek Stepan on the top line, would help. But Callahan believes the lack of chances stems from not establishing the team’s trademark forecheck enough and an inability to penetrate Washington’s penalty kill.
“We’ve got guys that can score goals,” he said. “It’s just a matter of doing it.”
That was the message throughout the Rangers’ downcast locker room, and once McDonagh emerged, he insisted the focus had already turned to Game 3. In fact, Richards had a guarantee of sorts for when this series moves to New York on Monday night.
“We know we’re gonna score more than one goal in two games,” he said.