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Senators find some positives in Game 1 loss

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Senators find some positives in Game 1 loss
Falling behind by four goals isn't usually an indicator that a team had a chance for a victory in a Stanley Cup Playoff contest. But that's not how Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean sees it.

NEW YORK -- Falling behind by four goals isn't usually an indicator that a team had a chance for a victory in a Stanley Cup Playoff contest.

But that's not how Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean sees it.

The Senators were trailing 1-0 midway through the second period against the top-seeded New York Rangers on Thursday night in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden, but they were beginning to overwhelm the heavy favorites. The Rangers were hemmed in their own zone for two consecutive shifts, resulting in a timeout from coach John Tortorella to relax the troops -- who were seeing the game start to slip away.

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The Senators held a 22-12 shot advantage at that time, and only some terrific saves by Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had kept Ottawa off the scoreboard.

After that stoppage, the Rangers took over, scoring three goals on their next four shots to roll to a 4-2 victory.

All in all, MacLean saw a lot of positives, uncharacteristic of a game that was virtually over with 17 minutes left in the third period.

"I think for us, we were pretty pleased with how the first period went," MacLean said. "But for the last four, maybe five minutes of the second period is when we end up giving up a couple goals and (another) early in the third period. If you could take away those six minutes, we are pretty happy with how we played the game. We will build on the 54 minutes we played reasonably well and try to see what we can do to correct the six minutes we didn’t."

It sounds a little crazy, but MacLean isn't just trying to encourage his young team in what is the first postseason for many of them.

Goaltender Craig Anderson allowed four goals, but he was hung out to dry on three of them. Ryan Callahan opened the scoring for the Rangers in the first period, sweeping home a rebound while defenseman Filip Kuba wasn't as physical in front of the net as he could've been.

Marian Gaborik made it 2-0 after a turnover by Senators defenseman Jared Cowen, an unchecked Brian Boyle snapped a wrist shot from the slot late in the second period to make it 3-0, and Brad Richards finished a pass from Carl Hagelin alone in front of the net to put the Rangers ahead 4-0 early in the third period.

It was only a six-minute flourish, but it was enough to drop the Senators into a 1-0 series hole.

"I thought it was a pretty even game," center Jason Spezza said, "then we kind of got off our game plan for a little bit for a few minutes, and it's 4-0. It's building off what we tried to do here in the third period. I'm looking forward to the next game."

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson cut the lead to 4-1 midway through the period, and forward Erik Condra gave the Senators a flicker of hope when he cut the lead to 4-2 with 2:19 left in regulation.

The problem for Ottawa was the turnovers that translated directly into Rangers goals.

"We lose the game so were not happy with it," Spezza said. "But there's things we can learn from it. I don't know if you'd call them positives. There's little lapses in our game that we can learn from.

"You can talk to guys about how the pace is going to be quicker, decisions are going to have to made quicker, but now we've been through it and guys are going to know what to expect in the next game. We didn't anticipate this would be an easy series. There's things to draw from."

It was too little, too late in Game 1, but it could give the Senators some optimism heading into Game 2.

"We need to be better through the neutral zone to get more possession in their end," defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. "It's nice to get a couple of goals to make us feel a bit better, but we know we have to be better on Saturday. We get one day to regroup and get ready."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic