GREENBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Don’t judge the New York Rangers by the scores of their two losses to the Boston Bruins.
According to coach John Tortorella, the Rangers played much better in the Game 2 blowout than in their overtime defeat in the series opener.
The bottom line is this: for the second consecutive series, New York has dug an 0-2 hole on the road and will need to rebound quickly at Madison Square Garden if the club hopes to extend this postseason run.
Can this team do it again?
“The first game, the score doesn’t indicate the game,” Tortorella said Monday. “We probably should’ve lost by more.”
The Rangers returned to practice one day before they will host the Bruins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series. New York was looking to shake off its 5-2 loss on Sunday while focusing on the task at hand.
“After watching the tape, which always helps me the next day one way or another,” Tortorella said, “there were a lot of good things.”
Game 4 will also be in New York on Thursday.
In the first round, the Rangers returned home after dropping two games in Washington and evened the series with a pair of wins at the Garden. The home team won every game in that series until New York took Game 7 in a dominating 5-0 decision.
“We know we can’t take them lightly,” forward Brad Marchand said Monday after the Bruins practiced in Boston. “We’ve got to make sure we go to New York being very hungry and ready to go out hard.”
History is hardly on the Rangers’ side. New York is 2-19 in series it trailed 0-2, and no NHL team has won consecutive series after losing the first two games.
“You don’t want to be down 2-0,” Tortorella said. “We know what hole we’re in, but by no means is this a really bad thing. We need to win a game and try to get momentum on our side.
“Last year, we had to win a couple in a row and we were going back and forth with wins and losses. We’ve been in this situation for a long time the past couple of years. I am not worried about that. I just want to make sure we correct the things we need to correct, and I think we’ll be OK.”
The Bruins are also well aware they still have plenty of work to do to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in three seasons.
Boston led Toronto 3-1 in the first round before being forced to Game 7. The Bruins then staged a three-goal comeback in the third period of the decisive game to get to overtime. Patrice Bergeron scored the tying and winning goals to help the Bruins survive and advance.
The last thing they want to do now is give the Rangers a chance to seize momentum.
“It’s about realizing the series is not over until you win that fourth game. We know that,” Bergeron said. “We know (Tuesday) is going to be a huge game. They’re going to try to bounce back, and we’re expecting them to come out really hard. We need to make sure we match that.
“It’s going to be in their building so we’re expecting them to come out with a lot of energy and feed off the crowd.”
The Rangers are banking on the same thing. New York won three games at home against Washington, and figures to need three more against Boston to get out of this round.
Star forward Rick Nash netted his long-awaited first postseason goal with the Rangers on Sunday. If that gets him going on a roll, New York’s outlook will appear that much brighter.
“I’d rather trade that goal in for a win, so it doesn’t matter,” Nash said. “Anytime you play at home it seems like you create that energy off the fans. If you look at the good teams around the league — and they are the teams that don’t need it — there is no excuses. It shouldn’t make a difference whether we are home or on the road.”
One key factor for the Rangers is the play — and health — of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. He was back on the ice Monday after his rough game on Sunday, in which he also appeared to injure a shoulder.
He was no worse for wear during and following the hour-long practice.
“Everybody is sore,” he said.
Before Sunday, Lundqvist hadn’t allowed five goals in 151 consecutive games, dating to a 5-2 loss at Anaheim on March 9, 2011. He also had never yielded more than three goals in any of his 31 previous games against the Bruins, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Lundqvist gave up 12 total goals in the first five games of the first-round series versus the Capitals before shutting them out in Games 6 and 7. Boston has already registered eight goals against him.
“It’s disappointing to give up five goals, but positioning-wise and reading the plays for the most part was good,” Lundqvist said. “They made some good plays, too, and then there were some unlucky bounces and screens.
“I could probably find excuses for the goals, but it’s not going to help my game. I just have to try to be better and work even harder to see pucks.”
Tortorella chalked up some of Boston’s goals to “simple coverage” mistakes by his team — errors he said were uncharacteristic and fixable.
“It doesn’t bother me, it surprises me a little bit,” he said. “We beat ourselves. I am not disrespecting Boston by any means. We hurt ourselves in our play away from the puck, and I think that is one of the biggest strengths we have.”
The Bruins also expect to see the best of the Rangers once the series shifts to New York.
“We always worry about the other team. We need to worry about ourselves,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “When we play well, we’re a good team and we give ourselves a chance to win.
“We need to understand they’re going to be better. We also need to be better.”
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