Ken Warren’s Game File: Senators had it all, then let it slip away

An early lead, a raucous crowd behind them and a tired-looking Rangers squad on the other side. Then they stopped skating, keeping the Rangers alive, only one shot from tying the game. After the dormant Rangers power play scored to tie the game, New York added two late second period goals to take control.

Ken Warren’s Game File: Senators had it all, then let it slip away

WHY THEY LOST

The Senators had it all: The return of their captain, a raucous crowd behind them and a tired-looking Rangers squad on the other side. Then they stopped skating, keeping the Rangers alive, only one shot from tying the game. After the once dormant Rangers power play did just that, New York scored two more to take control.

STUD

Brad Richards, Rangers. Quiet for most of the series, Richards came up big when his team needed him, delivering a power play goal and an assist in the pivotal second period.

DUD

The Senators power play. Yes, they scored one early, but on a night when the referees were whistle happy, the Senators didn’t do enough with their manpower advantages. Coach Paul MacLean sent his own message, keeping Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson on the bench during a third period power play.

BLAME THE REFS, BUT WHAT ABOUT ‘THE SKINNY ONE ON THE RIGHT?’

No question, the game turned when Richards scored on the Rangers 5 on 3 manpower advantage late in the second period, resulting from Nick Foligno’s goalie interference call.

Yes, the officiating is awful, but that falls into the What Else Is New? File. There were half a dozen other weak calls. It’s sort of like complaining that the ice is terrible. It never changes.

Here’s the other part of the story. After Chris Neil’s power play 7:05 into the game, the Senators played conservatively, sitting back and waiting for something to happen.

If they had followed the advice on the T-shirts they’ve all been wearing around the dressing room — the ‘skinny one’ refers to the accelerator pedal – they might have taken the will out of a Rangers team that didn’t register a shot until after the 10-minute mark.

During his post-game session, MacLean wasn’t pleased, saying the Rangers outworked his team.

RANGERS ARE OPTIMISTIC GOING HOME

The Senators have won two of the first three games at Madison Square Garden and Craig Anderson has an 8-1 career mark in the building, but the Rangers wouldn’t want to be anywhere else for Game 7

“The two best games we did play in the series were Game 1 and Game 5, Game 5 we just didn’t score,” said Richards. “In Game 2, we had a lead until there were four minutes left, so we can draw on a lot of positives. That’s why you play 82 games. We would rather be going home, in front of our fans, our environment. We’re used to it. This is when I think home ice matters, it’s going to give us a lift.”

IN PRUST THEY TRUST

To most of the crowd at Scotiabank Place, the Chris Neil-Brandon Prust first period fight was a clear victory for Neil. Richards, however, says the Rangers rallied around it.

“After what (Prust) did to give us a lift, we all kind of regrouped after the first period and we played a lot better and aggressive second period,” Richards said. “Huge turning point. Can’t say enough about what he does.”

OFF NIGHT FOR THE STARS

Spezza got the late goal and finished the night with four shots, but it was an uneven night.all around. Through the first two periods, he had only one shot on goal and passed up others time and again, adopting his old habits of holding on to the puck way too long. Spezza didn’t see much ice time early in the third period, including on the power play. Daniel Alfredsson also kept him company on the bench, showing un-captainlike behaviour by smashing water bottles on the bench because the coach didn’t put him on the ice…As good as Zenon Konopka has been in the playoffs, the fact he played 15:02, including 1:04 on the power play, is an indication that the coach wasn’t happy with some players who usually log bigger minutes…Jared Cowen and Ryan Callahan led their teams with six hits each, appropriate considering the two had a head-to-head battle all night long, along the boards and in front of Craig Anderson.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

Chris Phillips, seeing additional time on the power play, had a couple of close calls in the third period, with the Senators trailing 3-1.

He beat Lundqvist with a shot from the blueline, but couldn’t beat the post. On a later power play, Foligno one-timed a Phillips pass, but Lundqvist came sliding across to make one of his best stops of the game.

If one of those goes in, who knows? Jason Spezza’s final minute goal, with the added suspense of a video review, kept the fans in their seats until the final second, but there weren’t enough of those bounces for the Senators to finish off the series.

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