The Ottawa Senators put up a brave face.
The No. 8-ranked Senators are going to have to get their act together pretty quickly on Broadway after dropping a 4-2 decision to the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their first-round series Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
While the Senators scored a couple of goals late, from Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra, they weren't exactly looking at the fact they broke Henrik Lundqvist's bid for a shutout as a positive.
"We lose the game so we're not happy with it," said alternate captain Jason Spezza. "But there's things we can learn from it. I don't know if you'd call them positives. There's little lapses in our game that we can learn from.
"You can talk to guys about how the pace is going to be quicker, decisions are going to have to made quicker, but now we've been through it and guys are going to know what to expect in the next game. We didn't anticipate this would be an easy series. There's things to draw from."
The Senators got schooled by the Rangers, especially in the second. Physically, New York tried to run Ottawa out of the rink in the first and the Senators withstood the challenge, trailing only 1-0 on a Ryan Callahan goal.
That changed after a timeout midway through the second by coach John Tortorella with the Rangers struggling to get anything going. Brian Boyle and Marian Gaborik scored late to give the New York a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes.
"The game is going to be full of ups and downs," said Rangers blue-liner Dan Girardi. "They're going to have some zone time, we're going to have some zone time, and it's kind of how we handled it.
"We were in our end for a while, but we didn't let anything against us and [Henrik Lundqvist] made a few big saves. [The timeout] gave us a second to calm down and get ourselves going the other way."
Now, it's the Senators who have to get themselves going or face being down 2-0 going back to Ottawa Monday for Game 3 at Scotiabank Place. Goalie Craig Anderson wasn't very good but nobody was in front of him either.
"They did a better job on their forecheck than we did forcing turnovers. That's the biggest difference," said Alfredsson. "Those led to goals directly. When we forced turnovers, we weren't as opportunistic.
"We realize the way we need to play. It was nice to get a couple of goals in the third to make us feel better but we know we have to be better on Saturday. We've one day to regroup and get ready."
The Senators are far from out of this.
"We came out in the third, we had the mindset we would see what happens, go out there and give it our all," said Anderson. "We proved to ourselves that we can play with these guys. It gives us something to build off of. We didn't get the result we wanted, but the third period was definitely building blocks going forward."
The only problem with the playoffs is if you don't build the house quickly, you can end up in a pretty big hole.
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