LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Nobody wants Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final to come quicker than Dan Girardi.
The Rangers defenceman was victimized by a bouncing puck that led to the Kings’ overtime goal in Game 1 on Wednesday.
After the Kings flubbed a three-on-two, the puck found its way to Girardi who had time and space to play it. The other Rangers headed up the ice to start an attack only to have the puck bounce over Girardi’s stick.
The 30-year-old from Welland, Ont., fell to his knees, taking a swipe at the puck in a bid to clear it. It went straight to Kings forward Mike Richards, who fed Justin Williams for the winning overtime goal.
“It was gone until this morning, until right now,” Girardi said dryly Friday when reporters asked him about the gaffe. “As a player, there’s really no worse feeling than that. Obviously in the Stanley Cup finals you don’t want to make a play that costs your team.
“Obviously (I was) stewing about it a little bit (on the Rangers’ off-day Thursday) but you’ve got to move on. We’ve got a huge opportunity to get it 1-1 going back to our building.”
Game 2 is Saturday at Staples Center.
Girardi, who plays with Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers’ top defensive pairing, got plenty of support from his teammates in the wake of the overtime mistake.
“Danny was down for a few minutes,” said forward Brad Richards. “Everybody kind of picked him up.
“That’s a tough bounce. It just happened that that was the overtime goal that the bounce happened. We got a bounce on the second goal that went off their D-man (Slava Voynov) in the net.”
McDonagh sits next to Girardi in the locker room and wasted little time going over the play.
“That’s how we work through things as a group,” said McDonagh. “Me and him are a pretty talkative pairing. No matter what happens, bad play, good play, we’re talking about it, trying to improve, trying to make sure we’re on the same page as much as possible.
“If it was flip-flopped and it was me, he would have came to me and asked me, What could we have done differently, what could we have done better? That’s the beauty of our pairing and the beauty of him, too. He doesn’t soak in the wounds, so to speak, think about the what-ifs. He just tries to correct it, see what he can do better, and we’re there supporting him.”
It was clearly appreciated.
“It’s great to hear the guys rally around you,” said Girardi. “That could happen to anyone and everyone would have reacted the same way, doesn’t matter who it is. That’s the type of team we are. Everyone’s got each other’s back.”
Several assistant coaches also spoke to Girardi afterwards. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, meanwhile, kept the incident in perspective
“Everybody understands the dynamic of that play,” he said. “You know, Dan’s got to turn the page and move on.
“He’s been one of our real solid defencemen, not only in the playoffs and the regular season, but he’s a real hard worker, and I’m sure that he’s focused on the next game now.”