-- So the New York Rangers
went on the road without captain Chris Drury
and still stole a game and the home-ice advantage from the high-scoring Washington Capitals
How's that for a confidence booster?
"It was nice that we could pull one out for him," left wing Markus Naslund
told NHL.com after a 4-3 victory in Wednesday night's opener of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
Drury was hurt sometime during last Thursday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers
at Madison Square Garden. The nature of his injury was never disclosed -- not even upper or lower body -- and Drury didn't get back on the ice until Tuesday, when he sounded optimistic that he'd play. But Rangers coach John Tortorella still said he was "day to day."
Drury skated briefly Wednesday morning and took warm-ups with his teammates prior to Game 1. He was flexing his leg after doing a couple of twirls and apparently his injury -- be it a leg, wrist or whatever -- did not allow him to play.
Tortorella said that Drury "was close" to playing, but Aaron Voros
dressed in his absence and skated on the fourth line with Blair Betts
and Colton Orr
, who played all of 3:23. Voros skated for only 3:50, but Betts, who kills penalties, got 12:20 of ice time.
"He'll do anything he can to get in that lineup and I think he'll be in Game 2," Tortorella said of Drury.
The good news now is Drury has two more days to heal because Game 2 isn't until Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NBC).
"He definitely helps our team when he's in the lineup, but there's confidence in here that we can win without him," forward Ryan Callahan
said. "If he's in, it's great for us. If not, we have to go back to work."
Ironically, it was hard to tell after Game 1 which was the happier team, the winners or the losers.
The Rangers were in good spirits for obvious reasons, not the least of which was they scored twice on their power play, which has been anemic for most of the season.
"It's a good time for us to get the power play going," Naslund said. "It's a good sign."
But New York did get outshot 35-21. The Capitals had another 21 shots blocked and they missed the net on 17 more, giving them a total of 72 attempts at the net to the Rangers' 48.
Washington also scored twice on the power play against the NHL's best regular-season penalty-killers. The Rangers handed Washington seven advantages, which is way too many if they want to keep the Caps' powerful offense at bay for the entire series.
"I don't know what they're thinking of, but I know what we're thinking and we feel pretty good about ourselves," Washington sniper Alex Ovechkin
said after firing 13 shots on goal in 26:07 of ice time. "Yeah, we lose the game, but we had a good battle. It happens."
Clearly the Caps weren't completely distraught, but they definitely need a better performance in net from Jose Theodore
Caps coach Bruce Boudreau
lamented that fact after Game 1, but now there are legitimate questions heading into Saturday about whether Theodore will play or if Boudreau will turn to rookie Simeon Varlamov.
Worse yet, they'll be asked for a full two days.
"I just didn't play the way that I can," Theodore said bravely in front of the glow of the television cameras.
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org