Last Updated: 8:39 AM, April 17, 2012
Posted: 3:32 AM, April 17, 2012
KANATA, Ont. — This wasn’t simply more like the Rangers, this was just like the Rangers; patient, poised, disciplined and simply unbeatable in nets.
“Everybody was a little different in their focus, you could feel it all day and in the room,” Brad Richards told The Post after the Rangers regained home-ice advantage in this opening-round series against the Senators with a taut Game 3, 1-0 victory for a 2-1 edge in the series that continues here tomorrow night. “When we got to the rink, everybody was zoned in.”
The zone featured a pristine 39-save performance from the unconquerable Henrik Lundqvist, who used Saturday’s 3-2 overtime Game 2 defeat at the Garden as motivation, and another imposing performance from Brian Boyle, whose goal at 7:35 of the third was the only one The King and his Court of Blueshirts would need.
“I think we were all disappointed that we lost on Saturday and that made us even more determined to have a good game,” said Lundqvist, whose most memorable save of his fourth career playoff shutout came against Kyle Turris from in front with under a minute to go and Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson pulled for the extra attacker. “We all knew how important it was for us to have a good game.
“For myself, I was still upset on the way to this game about the way we lost the last one on two fluky goals,” The King said. “I was sitting on the bus thinking that we should have been up 2-0 and I tried to use that as energy and as a mind game when I went onto the ice.”
This one was physical, but it barely resembled the carnival that took place on the ice throughout a Game 2 that was marked by ceaseless confrontations following the whistles and chippy play all over the rink.
There was no carryover from the incidents on Saturday that included Carl Hagelin concussing Daniel Alfredsson with an elbow that earned the Rangers rookie a three-game suspension and kept the Ottawa captain out of last night’s match and Matt Carkner attacking Boyle to avenge a Game 1 matter involving Erik Karlsson.
Boyle, who was booed and jeered throughout, said he found being the focus of such attention, “surprising.”
But, added the center, who converted a ricochet off the rear boards and the side of the net for the backhand winner and has scored in each game of the series while leading the club with 12 shots, “If I’m the villain to them, that’s good.”
Chris Kreider made his pro and NHL debut less than a week after joining the Rangers after his junior season at Boston College concluded with a second national championship. The left wing not only replaced Hagelin in the lineup, he took his spot on the unit with Richards and Marian Gaborik.
And it was that line whose strong shift down low approximately eight minutes into the second — after an initial strong turn three minutes in — that allowed the Rangers to seize control of what had been a teeter-totter affair and dictate the tempo.
For the first time in the series, the Rangers were able to consistently disrupt the Senators in their own zone, and dominate below the hash marks. It was the Richards line, then the reunited Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan unit and then the Boyle-Ruslan Fedotenko-Brandon Prust trio, one after another pinning in Ottawa.
“It wasn’t just one and done,” said Richards. “We were able to get in on them consistently and then use our points. We needed to control the puck more and we did.”
The Rangers needed to be more like themselves, is what they needed last night.
And they were.