Tortorella says momentum has swung to Senators

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella conceded Thursday that the tide has turned in the best-of-seven series against the Ottawa Senators.

“They got a win and enter the next game with momentum,” Tortorella said in a conference call with reporters.“We have to play our game and get it back.”

The Rangers, like the Senators, had the day off from practice Thursday, but they’ll be back at work in New York on Friday, looking for an edge in a series which has now been reduced to a best-of-three, thanks to the Senators 3-2 overtime win at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday.

Tortorella believes the key to the game was the Rangers inability to pad their lead to three goal after a quick start, allowing the Senators to hang around long enough to get back into the game.

“We had good chances to get that third goal, including one from (Marc) Staal,” he said. “But when we could not get it done, you could see the momentum change. We have not been able to find that next goal in our two losses.”

As much as the defeat left a hollow feeling in the Rangers dressing room late Wednesday night – Brad Richards said the plan is to wipe it from the memory banks and start fresh Saturday – Tortorella wasn’t buying suggestions that his team showed signs of fatigue. He believes the Rangers played one of their best periods of the series in the third period Wednesday.

While Jason Spezza is hearing some criticism here for his inability to put up big numbers so far in the series, it’s a similar story for many of the stars who were expected to lead the Rangers. Richards and Marian Gaborik each have a goal and two assists, but Brandon Dubinsky is pointless and Ruslan Fedotenko has been held to a single assist.

“We’ve had some secondary players play good minutes,” said Tortorella. “I’m not interested in naming names. We’re going to win or lose as a team.”

The Rangers have also been without the Carl Hagelin for the past two games. Hagelin, who was handed a three-game suspension for elbowing Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in Game 2 of the series, scored 14 goals and 24 assists during the regular season.

“That’s not the reason we lost,” said Tortorella. “I thought we played real well (in Game 4). We want his speed in (the game), but we made do. We’re not going to use that as an excuse.”

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