OTTAWA -- Again. It happened again. Another 6-on-5 goal against late in regulation leading to another overtime loss. This makes three times in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, two in the Eastern Conference Second Round, enough to put the New York Rangers on the brink of elimination.
How does this keep happening to them?
[RELATED: Complete Rangers vs. Senators series coverage]
"I don't have the answer," captain Ryan McDonagh said after the Rangers coughed up a chance to take a lead against the Ottawa Senators in the best-of-7 series.
Derick Brassard scored the 6-on-5 goal at 18:34 of the third period and Kyle Turris scored in overtime at 6:28 to give the Senators a 5-4 win in Game 5 at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday.
The Senators lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and have a chance to advance in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday because the Rangers have not been able to defend them properly when goalie Craig Anderson leaves the ice for the extra attacker.
It's that simple, really. Otherwise, the Rangers have been the better team in this series.
The Rangers have led for 179:52 of the 329:22 played in the series, including for 29:56 in Game 5. Ottawa has led for 13:10. That's it.
Video: NYR@OTT, Gm5: Brassard deflects in late equalizer
The Rangers have scored the first goal in all five games. They have outscored the Senators 18-15, including 4-1 in special teams.
None of that matters because of the major issue the Rangers have had in defending 6-on-5 situations. It's a problem that traces back to April 2.
That night at the Garden, the Philadelphia Flyers scored two goals with the extra attacker on the ice and nearly another one in a 6-on-4 situation in the final minute before the Rangers finally closed out a 4-3 win.
"The only thing I can take from that is we got some good examples of how not to play a 6-on-5 and 6-on-4 going into the playoffs," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said after the win against the Flyers in New York. "We can learn from it."
"We found a way to lose some games here," Staal said.
Brassard's 6-on-5 goal in Game 5 came eight seconds after Anderson went to the bench for the extra attacker. That extra attacker, by the way, was Brassard.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault wondered if the five players he had on the ice were even aware that Anderson left and Brassard came on because it happened so quick.
"Maybe the guys didn't know their goaltender was coming, but there's less than two minutes and they're down by a goal so you should expect it," Vigneault said. "But maybe they were caught there not knowing he was out."
Regardless, they had to see Brassard cutting through the zone to the front of the net. Right?
Nobody picked him up.
Erik Karlsson made a terrific diagonal pass to Clarke MacArthur, whose shot from the left circle created a rebound in front. Brassard got a piece of it and the puck pinballed off three Rangers -- Staal, Tanner Glass and Brendan Smith -- before trickling into the net.
"It's a heck of a pass from the point man there finding an open guy," McDonagh said. "Then when those pucks get down on the net you have to find a way to get sticks. That's about the only thing we can try to control better is finding sticks and guys in front."
Video: NYR@OTT, Gm5: Turris goes five-hole for OT win
They didn't at the end of regulation in Game 2 and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored on a deflection with 1:02 remaining because of it. He later scored the double-overtime goal in Ottawa's 6-5 victory.
The Rangers also gave up a 6-on-5 goal with 17.2 seconds left in regulation of Game 2 in the first round against the Montreal Canadiens because nobody could tie up Tomas Plekanec's stick. Plekanec scored off of a redirection and Alexander Radulov scored in overtime.
"The goals are scored in front," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "That's what's going to happen. There are going to be deflections, there are going to be rebounds, so you have to just take the battle there, get the sticks, get the bodies, but there are a lot of them. A lot of guys in front and if you don't get the bounces there it's going to be tough to defend. But yeah, we have to do a better job in finding a way to make the save there. It's been a factor for sure."
However, as disastrous as the loss felt Saturday, there was one positive the Rangers could take with them on their flight back home. They know how to handle the exact situation they're in now. They've been here before.
Granted, this is the first time they are facing elimination in the 2017 playoffs, but they were facing a tough road ahead, down 2-0 in the series, after losing this exact way in Game 2. The Rangers came home and dominated Games 3 and 4, winning each 4-1.
"We played our best hockey coming home and desperate," Staal said. "Now we're one game away from being out of it, so [desperation] is going to be there. We're going to be there and we're going to respond the right way and get this thing back here to Ottawa [for Game 7]."
Unless you know what happens again.