Senators drop first game of the series 4-2
Everything is escalated for the playoffs. The atmosphere, the speed, the hits: it's all turned up to 11 in the playoffs. The New York Rangers clearly got the memo, as they came out of the gate flying and hitting everything in sight. The Senators, by comparison, didn't look to have the same type of intensity early. This showed on the scoreboard in the first period, as Ryan Callahan got the Rangers on the board about ten minutes in after Craig Anderson gave up a big rebound that Callahan was able to tuck in the net.
The second period saw the Senators come out with more jump, hemming the Rangers into their own zone and forcing them to ice the puck with considerable frequency. Unfortunately, after nearly 15 minutes of controlling the play, the Senators failed to capitalize on their opportunities (or their powerplays), and Marian Gaborik was able to walk in front of Craig Anderson and slip the puck in five-hole for a 2-0 Rangers lead. A few minutes later, Brian Boyle rifled one above Anderon's shoulder to give the Rangers a 3 goal lead.
Nick Foligno turned the puck over behind Anderson's net early in the third period, leading to a Brad Richards goal that put the game out of reach. The Senators collapsed and allowed the Rangers to control the tempo for the majority of the period, only turning it on late as Daniel Alfredsson deflected a Jason Spezza pass above Henrik Lundqvist to help Ottawa erase the goose-egg, and Erik Condra fired home a nifty Nick Foligno pass to bring the game to within two. Unfortunately, it was too late, and the Sens couldn't complete the comeback.
Sens Killer: Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist looked shaky to start the game, frequently looking behind him to make sure the puck hadn't squeaked through. However, he managed to make the saves to keep his team alive during the Senators' strong second period, and because of that his team gained a four goal lead that was impossible for the Senators to recover from. Lundqvist made 30 stops and finished with a .938 save percentage.
Sens Hero: Daniel Alfredsson
Five minutes into the third period, there was pretty much no chance of the Senators coming back from a 4-0 deficit. However, there was still something to play for -- a goal. A single goal would give the Senators confidence that they could beat Lundqvist, and ease the pain of a loss. Alfie got the Sens on the board with a deflection goal, giving the team a bit of life. He was second among forwards with 21:33 time on ice, and had 5 shots on goal.
Sens Zero: Zack Smith
Zack Smith is at his most effective when he's skating hard, hitting hard, and playing with some serious edge. He was lacking all of that, his only edge showing when he took two careless penalties in the third period.
Sens Zero: Jared Cowen
Cowen looked to have some rookie jitters tonight, going -3 in his 15:58 time on ice. He seemed unsure of himself and rarely used his size to his advantage.
Sens Zero: Craig Anderson
Anderson made a number of big saves in the first half of the game that kept the Senators in it, but 4 goals against on 31 shots is unacceptable, particularly in the playoffs. Sure, he was hung out to dry on a number of occasions, but I'm sure that when he reviews the game tape, he'll see at least a couple of goals that he probably should have had.
Sens Zero: Powerplay
The Sens went 0 for 3 with the man advantage tonight, and it simply looked ugly. The Sens had trouble breaking into the Rangers' zone, and once they did, they didn't seem to know what to do with the puck. Shots on the powerplay rarely made it to the net. The Sens need to find a way to improve it, stat.
Sens Zero: Defensive coverage
The Rangers were a pretty tight and cohesive defensive unit, blocking shots and keeping the Senators to the outside. The Senators? Not so much. The Senators coughed up the puck constantly, allowed the Rangers to get comfortable in front of Craig Anderson, and occasionally looked lost in their own zone.