WASHINGTON -- John Tortorella has seen both sides of these sorts of 2-0 series leads against the Washington Capitals.
Maybe that's why the oft-fiery Tortorella struck a reassuring tone minutes after the Capitals defeated the New York Rangers 2-0 on Friday at the Verizon Center.
"I'm not upset with the team," Tortorella said. "I think we did some good things tonight. By no means are we down [emotionally]. We are not down. We need to get some momentum on our side. That's the greatest thing about a series. If we can find a way to win a hockey game, the momentum comes back on your side."
|Stanley Cup Playoffs|
Tortorella was the bench boss with the Tampa Bay Lightning when it boomeranged on the Capitals in the first round of the 2003 playoffs. The Caps built a 2-0 lead -- coincidently, with a three-goal differential like they have in this series -- only to lose the next four games against the Lightning.
He also saw the Rangers' 2-0 series lead against the Caps two years ago go for naught in Tortorella's first season in New York.
"I am not discouraged with the hockey club," Tortorella said. "That's what you're going to be talking until we play next: we haven't scored many goals. We need to just relax [and] play the way we did for a number of minutes tonight. That's more our style.'
Even with Ryan Callahan -- the Rangers' second-leading scorer who is out indefinitely with a broken ankle -- there was no way the Blueshirts were going to match the Caps' firepower. But the only goal the Rangers have scored through six-plus periods came in the third period of Game 1 from defenseman Matt Gilroy, who was a healthy scratch at times late in the season and who last scored in January.
Brandon Dubinsky, the Rangers' top goal scorer (24 goals), has no points and is a minus-3 in the series. Marian Gaborik leads the Rangers with eight shots, but can't be found in very many other places in the box score.
|'I'm not upset with the team,' Rangers coach John Tortorella says. 'We need to get some momentum on our side.' (Getty Images)|
"We talk about it a lot," Rangers forward Brian Boyle said. "We've had some good battles. You just can't get nervous. You have to have confidence with each other and keep spreading the puck."
The Rangers get the advantage of returning to Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon. At least, home should be advantage with the choppy ice and blue-clad faithful in attendance, but the Rangers were better on the road (24-16-1) than at MSG (20-17-4) in the regular season.
"They did their job at home and now we have to go do ours on Sunday," Rangers forward Chris Drury said.
The Rangers weren't outmatched early. They tested rookie Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth on a handful of chances; they put 13 shots on net in the first period, but New York put only nine more shots on goal the rest of the game.
The Caps scored the game's only goals in the second period. Jason Chimera fired in a one-timer from one knee and Jason Arnott put a puck into an open net as Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist scrambled after a deflection.
"[The Capitals] ended up getting one and then a lucky bounce on the penalty kill," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "We couldn't come back from it."
Sean Avery, who left the locker room without talking to reporters, was inserted into the lineup in place of Mats Zuccarello and he added his usual tenacity to the mix, but never crossed the line into penalty territory. He scuffled with Caps forward Alexander Semin midway through the third period and skated behind Washington defenseman John Erskine in an odd play before a faceoff later in the period.
None of that, however, did anything to change the scoring woes of the Rangers, who in their three victories against the Caps this season outscored Washington 15-1.
"We have to score a goal," Tortorella said. "We don't have any room for mistakes if we don't score a goal or score just one. That's what happened."