OTTAWA – After a weekend of hockey violence, the consensus was that the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators did it the right way on Monday.
Players and coaches from both the Senators and the Rangers agreed that New York’s 1-0 victory in Game 3 of their playoff series was a perfect demonstration of how playoff hockey should be played.
“I thought it was an outstanding game and it was true playoff hockey. There was a lot of big hits, a lot of scoring chances and fun to play in for any guy,” said Ottawa forward Nick Foligno.
The first two games of the series in New York City got a lot of publicity for the wrong reasons and Matt Carkner of the Senators and Carl Hagelin of the Rangers were both suspended following separate incidents in Game 2.
Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final had everything a hockey game needs with none of the controversy that was displayed in the opening two games at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers were 1-0 winners thanks to a third-period goal by Brian Boyle—the unwilling participant to the fight that led to Carkner’s one-game suspension—and a 39-save shutout performance by Henrik Lundqvist.
No one was disappointed Monday night—except, of course, the Senators and their fans, who were unhappy with the final score.
“It was a great playoff hockey game and the only bad part was that they scored one more goal than we did,” said Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean.
The Senators outshot the Rangers 39-23 and there were only five minor penalties called against both sides. The lack of penalty minutes didn’t mean a lack of physical play or emotion though.
There were 81 hits in the game, 48 coming from the Senators, who now trail the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 back in their building Wednesday night.
Foligno said it is clear the Senators are more than capable of playing the type of game they did Saturday, when they showed they will not be intimidated and will stand up for themselves. He also believes it shows they are more than capable of playing with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“It was making a statement saying and making them understand that if they want to play that way and if they want to play this way we can play this way too,” Foligno said.
Kyle Turris, who came over to the Senators form the Phoenix Coyotes earlier in the season, says both types of games are fun to play in, but Monday’s was just a little more exciting.
“It’s fun. The funnest part of hockey is playoff hockey and that was a fast-paced game. Back and forth and great opportunities both ways,” said Turris.
“They’re both fun (games) but this one was more fast paced because there was more flow to the game without all the penalties.”
There was also great goaltending from Lundqvist and Craig Anderson, who deservingly earned the game’s first and second stars respectively.
“This is the way we’ve been playing all year and I felt half way through that it was going to be a tight one,” Lundqvist said.
“It’s the playoffs and I expect it to be tough and rough so I thought it looked pretty good out there. It was a good playoff game.”
The Senators are hoping now that they can put at least one past Lundqvist in Game 4 and they are also hoping that they will have Daniel Alfredsson back in the lineup after he took an elbow to the head from Hagelin in the second period that knocked him out of Game 2.
Hagelin received a three-game suspension for the hit.
“We wanted to step and play well in his absence and guys stepped up and played well,” said Foligno. “It’s crazy to think we didn’t win that game because we did so well.”