NEW YORK – The Ottawa Senators are leaving New York without their identity. After going up 2-0 to start their second round series against the Rangers, they dropped both games at Madison Square Garden with lackluster efforts.
The series now shifts back to Canadian Tire Centre Saturday afternoon as a best of three. If the Senators are going to win this series, they will need a strong response at home.
“It’s not the end of the world. We won the first two games. They won those two games here,” said Senators forward Derick Brassard. “Now we’re going back in front of our fans and I know they’re going to be ready and they’re going to give us some energy. Maybe it’s a good thing for our team to get a couple of slaps in the face and kind of wake up a little bit.”
A wake-up call was needed after back-to-back 4-1 losses that have dramatically shifted momentum in the series. Ottawa’s play in New York showcased poor starts and a lack of help for goaltender Craig Anderson, who was pulled after the second period to get some rest, according to head coach Guy Boucher.
Also of concern was captain Erik Karlsson missing the third period with a lower-body injury. He tangled with Rangers forward J.T. Miller late in the second period and Boucher said he was able to come back to the game but they felt it was better to sit him out. There are currently no concerns about his status for Game 5.
The Senators talked on Thursday morning about the need to have a better start, and while it wasn’t as bad, it didn’t result in beating Henrik Lundqvist. Instead, it was Nick Holden getting the Rangers on the board first. Oscar Lindberg scored his first of two goals on the night early in the second period and once again Ottawa found themselves chasing the game.
“They’re playing with more urgency, maybe a little more desperate, which we knew was going to happen,” said Senators defenseman Marc Methot. “It’s something we have to match. We’re in the second round of the NHL playoffs. … I think the will was there; the right intentions were there. We came out, we wanted to work and match that, it just didn’t get done, and they capitalized on a couple of opportunities and essentially that was the difference.”
Ottawa took a big step backwards after getting off the plane in New York, so now they’re hoping they can find their identity again in the comfort of their own home.
“I think if you told us we were going to take care of home ice and then come here with a 2-0 lead, we’re frustrated with the fact that we didn’t build on that,” said Senators forward Bobby Ryan. “But at the same time we’re going home to our building, in front of our fans all tied up 2-2. We expected a long series and that’s what we’re going to get.”
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