In their first Game 1 at Madison Square Garden in sixteen years, the New York Rangers were able to come away with a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators and a 1-0 series lead. Now, the Rangers have a golden opportunity tonight at MSG, and that is to take a 2-0 series lead up north to Ottawa. And while the final score may tell one story of Game 1, it can be misleading to how the game unfolded on Thursday night.
For a good portion of Game 1, the game belonged to the Senators. After Ryan Callahan scored with eight minutes remaining in the 1st period, the remainder of the period belonged to the Senators. The Senators’ dominating play continued into the 2nd period, where at one point, they held a 21-12 shots on goal advantage over the Rangers, and if not for the play of Henrik Lundqvist, the Senators would have tied the game at the very least. After John Tortorella used his timeout, and a huge penalty kill in the second half of the period, the Rangers received goals from Marian Gaborik and Brian Boyle to give them a 3-0 lead going into the 2nd intermission.
As in any playoff series, each game grows in importance, and while it’s important for the Rangers to take the first two games at home, it is just as important for the Senators to avoid losing each of the first two games and go back to Ottawa down 0-2. And although a potential loss in Game 2 wouldn’t be overly damaging for the Rangers’ chances in this series, a win by the Senators would shift momentum and home-ice in the series to Ottawa.
Even though the game wasn’t in doubt in the last half of the 3rd period in Game 1, the Senators scored twice and controlled the play once again. The Rangers need to take that momentum back at the start of Game 2 and keep it throughout.