The night started with the news that John Tortorella was benching Sean Avery for his play in Games 3 and 4, and replacing him in the lineup with Aaron Voros. Right or wrong, Tortorella was sending a message that undisciplined play is detrimental to the team, and won't be tolerated. After Game 5, he is probably trying to figure out how to bench half his team.
The Rangers immediately got themselves in trouble in this game, as Scott Gomez took a slashing call less than 90 seconds in. As they have many times in this series, they killed off the penalty and drew one at the very end of it. The Rangers PP has been bad for most of the series, but their first one in this game had disastrous results, with Matt Bradley of the Caps scoring a shorthanded goal on a breakaway after Roszival fell down at the Caps blue line.
Later in the 1st, the one thing the Rangers couldn't afford to have happen did: Henrik Lundqvist gave up a bad goal, a shot from the left side by the same Matt Bradley, who had 5 goals in the regular season.
To say the Rangers were outplayed in the first period would be to insinuate that the Rangers played at all. Outshot 6-3 in the period, the Rangers looked as disinterested as the team that cost Tom Renney his job.
While the effort was marginally better in the 2nd period, the results were not. Alexander Semin, the only consistent goal scorer the Caps have had in this series, put the Caps up 3-0 on a shot off a face-off. The Rangers lackadaisical play continued, mustering just 7 shots in the 2nd, and with under a minute left in the period, Alex Ovechkin picked up his second goal of the series to make it 4-0.
Lundqvist was spared in the 3rd period of this game, giving way to Steven Valiquette for some quality mop-up duty. Lundqvist had been so brilliant for the first 4 games of this series; maybe it's good for his teammates and the fans to remember he is only human. But this game only proves once again that the Rangers are only going as far as Lundqvist takes them.
The Rangers played the 3rd period mostly because the league requires it. The Rangers paraded into the penalty box in the 3rd like it was Mardi gras, taking 7 penalties.
The most fight the Rangers showed all night was when head coach John Tortorella had words with Caps fans behind the Ranger bench. A fan sitting directly behind Torts was trying to goad him into a fight, from behind a pane of glass and several cups of beer naturally. Caps fans and their team could both use a lesson in learning how to win; every Caps goal is celebrated like a 4 OT Cup Winner.
Tortorella was understandably testy after the game. When asked about the Rangers lack of fore checking, Tortorella responded, "A lot of things weren't there tonight, I thought we prepared correctly, you're asking the wrong guy... you should ask them sometimes. I have to answer questions I really don't have the answers for you, but I thought we were ready to play. We just didn't play well."
All in all, the Rangers played this game like it was mid-January, and they had a plane to catch. I'm not sure how a playoff team with a 3-1 lead in the series can come out and put forth such a lack of effort. This loss cannot be blamed solely on Sean Avery's absence from the lineup; this was a total disaster from top to bottom. While benching Avery is understandable, why a player who could spark the offense wasn't called up from Hartford leaves you scratching your head. The Rangers now have 7 goals in 5 games, if they don't find a way to get some offense; they won't need hotel rooms in Boston next week.