NEW YORK, N.Y. – New York Rangers coach John Tortorella has little patience for mistakes and a big one by leading scorer Marian Gaborik on the New Jersey Devils’ tying goal got him an extended stay on the bench in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Gaborik was benched roughly 13 minutes in the Rangers’ 3-2 loss to the Devils on Wednesday night after making a couple of bad plays on Ryan Carter’s goal late in the second period that tied it at 2.
Until that point, the Rangers seemed in control, but the tally by the Devils’ fourth-line centre changed the momentum and a deflected goal early in the third period by David Clarkson proved to be the winner as New Jersey evened the series.
Tortorella refused to talk about sitting Gaborik, who was a 41-goal scorer in the regular season, or say almost anything about his team’s performance, other than it needs to improve.
Gaborik shed a little light on his being benched.
“On the second goal, I didn’t get the puck out, I guess. I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him,” Gaborik said.
Besides not getting the puck out, Gaborik also seemed to fail to do what all his teammates have done this season. He didn’t block the shot by defenceman Bryce Salvador from the blue line.
Gaborik seemed to stand straight up like a pencil and didn’t stretch his body out to block the shot. Carter tipped it and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist didn’t have a chance to stop it.
“I have to do a better job there, on the second goal,” Gaborik said. “We had some momentum and they took over. I have to do a better job on the wall and . it’s a series. We just have to come back into their building and play better.”
The late goal carried over into the third period and Clarkson got the winner 2:31 into the final period when the Rangers had trouble clearing the puck. Adam Henrique took a shot from the top of the faceoff circle and Clarkson knocked it into the net with a chopping motion with his stick.
The goal was reviewed to see if it was a high stick, but it was allowed to stand.
“When it’s such a high tip, that’s a tough play,” Lundqvist said. “I saw the puck, but after he touched it, it was just too tough to recover. The next game we just have to correct a few things.—the battles and stick positioning. We just have to talk about that and correct it.”
New York seemed to control after Marc Staal and rookie Chris Kreider scored second-period power-play goal to give New York a 2-1 lead.
However, Carter’s goal seemed to change the momentum.
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan downplayed the game.
“We’re a confident team going into third periods,” he said. “I don’t think it changed our mindset at all, going into the third.”
It changed Gaborik’s playing time. He did not return to the ice until less than 9 minutes were left and the only reason he probably did was because the Rangers needed a goal.
“The first period we were kind of slow, we didn’t get pucks like we wanted to,” Gaborik said. “Second period we did better, but it has to be better overall, try to create some zone time—in their zone—and keep some pucks in and get to the net. We didn’t do that enough.”
The series will shift to New Jersey for the next two games, with Game 3 scheduled for Saturday.
“We’ve been in this situation before—obviously, you want to be up, 2-0, but we just have to get back to their building and play better,” Gaborik said.