WASHINGTON -- For most of the first 40 minutes, the New York Rangers dominated play in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals.
They dominated in puck possession and created more scoring chances. The game was tied 1-1, but it looked like a matter of when, not if, they would break through.
Then came the third period, and all the good the Rangers had done unraveled in 20 painful minutes. The Caps owned the puck and limited New York to just one shot on goal while getting the game-winner from Sergei Fedorov in a 2-1 win.
"We tried to come out and play the same way," Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky told NHL.com. "Obviously they understood what we were trying to do."
Game 7 served as a microcosm of the Rangers' entire season -- solid defensive play but an absence of offense. In seven games against Washington, the Rangers scored just 11 goals.
"For most of the game I thought we did a really good job of keeping the puck," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "That's probably the most we've had the puck all series. But we couldn't develop enough scoring chances with the puck."
Most stinging were the final 90 seconds, when the Rangers, desperate to tie the game, could barely get the puck out of their zone -- they never got it far enough out to pull goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for an extra attacker.
"We just weren't able to get possession of it," Dubinsky said. "In those situations you feel the pressure and try to do a little bit too much. Maybe we were guilty of that. They were able to step up and take away some of those pucks we were trying to get down there."
Fedorov, who scored the winning goal, said his team talked after the second period that if it raised its collective work level, their superior talent would emerge and the result would take care of itself.
Tortorella seemed to agree.
"In the third period they turned it up a notch, we ended up backing up a little bit," he said. "They had the puck more than we did, but it was still a game to be had. They made a big play, we didn't."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.