The New York Rangers fell in Game 1 to the Ottawa Senators despite a superb performance from Henrik Lundqvist.
Erik Karlsson scored a fluky goal from behind the goal line to break a 1-1 tie late in the third period.
“That’s the life of a goalie,” Lundqvist said on MSG Network. “It comes down to one play where you don’t see the puck and kind of wait for it. Instead of trying to be a little bit more active. … That’s just how it goes.”
Game 2 will be played Saturday afternoon in Ottawa.
Blueshirt Bullet Points
1) Henrik Lundqvist was absolutely brilliant, including 21 crucial first-period saves. After extended time off, Lundqvist has struggled this season but was locked in from the beginning. However, credit Craig Anderson because he played really well on the other end of the ice.
2) Hard to say the same for the rest of the Rangers. Ryan McDonagh tallied a power-play goal, Michael Grabner had several scoring chances but did anyone else show up?
3) We have been Derek Stepan supporters for a long time but he made several poor decisions throughout Game 1. On a first-period power play, he had a poor dump in that led to an easy zone exit for Ottawa and a shorthanded breakaway. While killing a penalty, he lost a battle near the blue line where he easily could have cleared the puck. He did win an important faceoff late in the final frame, but overall Stepan had a very disappointing performance. After a substandard opening-round series for No. 21, I thought he would have bounced back.
4) Kevin Hayes turned in a lackadaisical effort. He misfired on a pass on the power play which ended an offensive zone possession. Then, on the next faceoff, he misplayed a bouncing puck. The Rangers depth is a distinct advantage in this series, but only if they can attack in waves and challenge the Senators consistently. As the third-line center, Hayes is in a prime spot to have a big series. But at the very least, he needs to show up.
5) While the power play unit was able to tally a goal, they were largely ineffective.
6) Against a well-structured team like the Senators, the Rangers need to play smart, disciplined hockey. Ottawa struggled to generate quality scoring chances at even strength, but Brady Skjei took a lazy holding penalty toward the end of the second period, in which the Ryan Dzingel capitalized and tied the game 1-1. Skjei was forced into another penalty earlier in the contest when he hooked Viktor Stalberg while the Blueshirts were on the power play. It was a rough night for No. 76 and New York will need him to be better.
7) Nick Holden had a decent outing, and joined the offensive rush on several occasions. To beat the trap, it starts with simple, smart passes from the defense and Holden will play a critical role as the series goes on. He has looked better since being benched for Game 3 vs. Montreal.
8) From an entertainment perspective, does anyone wish the Rangers played the Canadiens again? Whether it was the dead crowd, the game being on CNBC, it felt like a random game in the middle of February. Not Game 1 of the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
9) The Rangers will look to bounce back Saturday afternoon in Game 2.
10) “Will keep our heads up, keep positive,” McDonagh said on MSG Network. “It’s one game, a lot of hockey left.”