At the end of the first period, 18,000 people were standing in stunned disbelief.
Jeff Carter’s goal at the buzzer was the dagger through the Rangers heart that all but ended any hope the Blueshirts have for winning the Stanley Cup.
Sure, it was just one goal, but it was what it was represented.
“I know there weren’t a lot of shots on net,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “But we felt we played a real good period, the pace was good, there wasn’t a lot of room, both teams were battling real hard for ice. That was their only chance in the first period. We out-chanced them 4-1. We had some real good looks. Stuff like that happens.”
If this was just any old game then ok, but this was a chance to get back into the series. A series where the Rangers should have at least come in tied if not up 2-0.
But they are down 0-2.
And when you give away games against teams like the Kings, it’s very difficult to win a series. Los Angeles, much like the Rangers have a great equalizer in the new with Jonathan Quick. Last night, Quick looked like the X-Men’s Quicksilver, manning that net at a much faster past than anyone else on the ice.
When that happens, you just have to tip your hat and move on.
Sometime in this series this was just going to happen. Quick is just to good not to put up a gem.
“Well, he was obviously the best player on the ice tonight,” Vigneault continued. “But, you know, we got sort of a bad rush read on the first. We deflect in our net. Same thing happened in the second goal. On the third goal we played a two-on-one right, take the pass, goes right back on their stick.
“Give them credit. They found a way to put the puck past a real good goaltender, and we couldn’t do it.”
The good news, however, the Rangers still have Henrik Lunqvist, who can put up his own personal gem in Game 4. To prevent the Garden become the throne of the Kings, The King will have to put up the game of his life tomorrow.
Of course, even if that happens, the Rangers will then have to win three more after that.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The Rangers have their back against the wall and will need a team effort to perform a miracle. Yes, it’s been done before, but now the Rangers have no room for error.
“I am just extremely disappointed that we are in this hole,” Lundqvist said. “We have been talking about it after every game that we played really well but in the end it’s about finding ways to win. It’s not about playing great, it’s about winning. We have to regroup. It’s not over. We are looking at getting the next game, that’s all we think about right now is that win. In a game like this every little play matters and it feels like they had the luck so far in these three games where it feels like the game has been pretty even, but they have been finding ways to get the big goals at the right times. I guess and it’s something we just have to accept and try to be a little better next game.”
If not, the stunned disbelief of last night will look like a downright celebration tomorrow.