Following a disappointing 6-2 loss in Game 2 that evened the third round series, Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh blasted their performance. Making reference to some of the undisciplined penalties his teammates took, he let them have it.
“It’s embarrassing,” McDonagh told reporters in the Rangers locker room. “ There are a lot of things you want to say right now but talking doesn’t do much. Our guys better figure it out quickly here and realize that stupid, sefish penalties are going to cost us against this team. They’ve got too much skill. Shooting ourselves in the foot from the very first few minutes there is not going to give us a chance to win.”
In particular, they took too many penalties against a opportunistic opponent with the speed and skill to bury them. That’s exactly what happened. Of Tampa’s six goals, four were scored on special teams including going 3-for-6 on the power play. Johnson also scored shorthanded on a Rangers’ five-on-three thanks to a awful turnover from Martin St. Louis, who fell down causing a Johnson breakaway.
“I don’t even know what to call this game,” McDonagh added. “I want to get rid of it, get the thought out of my head. I’ve never really seen this group do that before and play that way. We’ve got to find a way to just get back to playing the way we know we can.”
In every aspect, they were too sloppy. If you think about it, the Lightning’s fourth goal basically came due to Derek Stepan’s minor penalty 1:02 into the third. Even though they nearly tied it with Ben Bishop denying Rick Nash and Jesper Fast, the Rangers were unable to clear the puck. It resulted in them running around and leaving Alex Killorn wide open for a perfect Victor Hedman cross-ice pass that he buried.
Johnson’s third tally came at even strength following Marc Staal falling at the left point. It resulted in a well executed three-on-two with Johnson following up Ondrej Palat’s rebound off the post by getting his stick on it following Nikita Kucherov’s kick.
Ranger mistakes were the story of Game 2. There was Derick Brassard’s needless high-sticking of Kucherov leading directly to Steven Stamkos’ power play goal that put it out of reach at 5-2. Stepan also took a penalty in the first that led to a 4-on-3 Johnson PPG that put the Bolts back ahead.
The Rangers’ lack of discipline didn’t allow them to play the Lightning at even strength. Something they were able to do during the first two periods of Game 1. They also took some bad penalties in the third of that one with McDonagh off when Johnson set up Palat for a game-tying power play goal. As a team, they want to avoid the penalty box against a red hot Bolts’ man-advantage that’s been cooking since their second round win over the Canadiens.
“I think in Game 1 we participated in the hockey game,” said Tampa head coach Jon Cooper, “and in Game 2 we came to win a hockey game. That was the difference.”
“You just have to wipe it clean,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who gave up his most goals (6) in a postseason outing since his debut against the Devils in 2006. “It’s one game. It’s a tied series. We’re going down to Tampa.”