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Rangers pay price for another slow start

by Dan Rosen

-- The Rangers focus was on their start, their first five minutes in Game 5.

It was the topic du jour after practice Tuesday; the need to be better at the beginning of the game against the New Jersey Devils; the need to control the puck, keep possession -- and, if at all possible, score a goal.


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Less than five minutes into the game Wednesday night they were down 2-0. Before 10 minutes elapsed it was 3-0.

What happened?

"I think we were trying so hard to have a good start, to get going, and maybe some plays that we wouldn't normally make end up in the back of our net," defenseman Marc Staal said. "It wasn't for lack of effort."

The Rangers lost 5-3 in Game 5 to fall behind in the series 3-2 because they were beaten badly on the scoreboard in the first 10 minutes of the game. However, unlike in Game 4, when they knew they were getting beaten on the scoreboard because they were getting crushed on the ice, the Rangers did not feel they were playing badly at the start of the game.

"Puck luck," is how coach John Tortorella termed it.

Stephen Gionta scored on a rebound left in front by Henrik Lundqvist at 2:43 of the first. Patrik Elias scored 90 seconds later on a deflection of an Adam Henrique shot that went into the net off Rangers center Artem Anisimov.

"They were opportunistic -- a few seeing-eye pucks," center Brad Richards said. "Sometimes that happens."

Travis Zajac made it 3-0 at 9:49 with a wrist shot from the right circle that went just inside the far post.

"I don't think the start was that bad, but it was tough when you get in a hole like that," center Brian Boyle said.

The Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 4 because of their aggressive forecheck and ability to roll four lines evenly. That wasn't necessarily the case in Game 5, but they had the lead nonetheless.

The Rangers were able to erase it -- they tied the game at 3-3 early in the third period -- but they couldn't escape it.

"I know we were down 3-0, but I think we've had worse starts," Boyle said. "But again, it can't happen."

If it does again in Game 6, well, you know the drill.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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