WASHINGTON -- Rangers coach John Tortorella isn't one to mince words, and he certainly didn't do that following New York's 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series at Verizon Center.
When asked if the Rangers' overall effort was what was needed, he responded, "No" twice before fielding the next question.
RANGERS VS. CAPITALS
Caps top Rangers 2-1 to force Game 7
By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer
Braden Holtby was fantastic in bouncing back from an OT loss again as the Capitals beat the Rangers 2-1 on Wednesday to force a decisive Game 7 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. READ MORE ›
What about the four-minute power play that came up empty in the second period with the Rangers trailing 2-0?
"[Stunk]," Tortorella said. "It kills you. It [stunk]."
Instead of closing out the series, they offered a repeat performance of a game earlier in the series.
The Rangers lost Game 4 in similar fashion, coming out with a slow start and eventually losing 3-2 after winning Game 3 in triple overtime 2-1. The Rangers' 3-2 win in Game 5 was achieved in similarly dramatic fashion, with a goal from Brad Richards coming with 7.6 seconds left in regulation and Marc Staal scoring 1:35 into overtime.
Players who spoke the next day warned that they couldn't have another slow start with the Capitals facing elimination in Game 6. Mike Rupp talked about the team's focus being stronger. Ruslan Fedotenko talked of the Rangers not wanting to weather the storm, but to take the attack to the Capitals.
Instead, the Rangers fell behind 1-0 on an Alex Ovechkin power-play goal just 1:28 into the game and never got back into the contest.
"I thought we got a little better throughout the game," captain Ryan Callahan said. "We got off to a slow start. The power-play goal there was pretty tough that early in the game. They create momentum off of that, but we have to be better. We have to be more urgent and create more opportunities."
"Yeah, it felt like we were pretty far from where we have to be to win a game like this," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 21 saves. "It felt like we were not really close until the last 20 seconds. We just have to go back home now and regroup and save all the energy we have left and play our best games of the playoffs at home."
There will be two days off before Game 7 takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York. Perhaps some of that time will be used to work on a power play that went 0-for-5 in Game 6.
During the four-minute power play that yielded nothing, the Rangers generated three early shots but little else. Caps defenseman Mike Green nearly scored a shorthanded goal, whistling a rocket that Lundqvist got enough of to steer it over the net.
Despite getting just six shots in 10 minutes of power-play time, defenseman Dan Girardi saw some silver linings.
"I think, at times, our power play was actually pretty good," Girardi said. "We got some good entries and we were moving the puck around well. Obviously, we didn't get one on the power play and they got one on theirs. It could've gone either way. We could've gotten some on ours. It's hard to look at that stuff. I think we could've maybe done a better job at 5-on-5 to create some more chances."
The top-seeded Rangers won Game 7 of their first-round series at home against the Ottawa Senators. They'll have to find that magic again against the seventh-seeded Capitals, who are a shot-blocking, mirror image of the Rangers.
"You have to get together and play your absolute best hockey of the year with a Game 7 at home," Lundqvist said. "It's going to be a tough one, but a great challenge for us to try to beat this team."