Call it Alain Vigneault’s Ode To Minimalism.
Roughly 20 minutes after his Rangers took Game 2 of the Metropolitan Division Finals with a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals Saturday at the Garden, Vigneault assessed the series’ first 120 minutes in the most basic of ways.
“They won one,” Vigneault said. The best-of-seven series is tied at one game apiece. Game 3 is Monday night at Verizon Center. Game 4 is Wednesday in Washington.”We won one. Now the focus shifts to the third game.”
Well, now that you mention it, can you analyze the difference in play between the 2-1 loss in Game 1 and what transpired in Game 2?
“We tried to use that energy in a good way going into [Game 2] and be really determined that we need [to win] this one,” Henrik Lundqvist said.
It certainly aided their cause that Lundqvist played “pissed off,” according to Derick Brassard.
Lundqvist made 30-of-32 saves, only Evgeny Kuznetsov’s second period goal and Alex Ovechkin’s all-time highlight reel marker in the third period got past him.
“He was the best player on the ice,” Brassard said of Lundqvist. “[The] same guy that we see every game. He was pretty pissed off after the game–Game 1–and he came back [Saturday]. I thought he played like he was pissed off.”
Lundqvist was strong throughout. He was at his best during the Capitals’ second period and end of game surges. His best save was a sprawling kick save on Kuznetsov in the second period while his back was on the ice, somewhat similar to his cartwheel save on Thomas Vanek in Game 6 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final.
“The second period, it was a pretty open game,” Lundqvist said. “There were big chances both ways and [Capitals goaltender Braden] Holtby played really well so I had to match that. I don’t know how the game [became] so open in the second but for two minutes it was back and forth, and as a goalie you just try to be there and make the save.
“Games are so important right now. Talking going into the third, we have to leave everything out there and you don’t want any regrets this time of year so you have to go out there and work as hard as you can.”
Good fortune helps, too.Brassard’s goal 6:07 into the third gave the Rangers a 3-1 cushion, and its significance grew exponentially when Ovechkin cut the lead to one four minutes and 22 seconds later.
Mere moments after his two-minute minor for interference was killed, Brassard drove down the slot and tapped Martin St. Louis’ feed–which slipped between the sticks of Matt Niskanen and Jay Beagle–between Holtby’s legs.
“I was really nervous in the penalty box, to be honest,” Brassard said. “The guys did a great job of killing the penalty.
“When I came back on the ice, I had some energy. I think that goal was big for our line. It’s going to bring us some confidence, hopefully.”
The three goals tie the Rangers’ high for these playoffs, set inthe 4-3 Game 2 loss to Pittsburgh last round.