New York Rangers

Vigneault: ‘Standards have been set’ after Ovechkin, Backstrom hits

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Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault had a creative — dare we say passive-aggressive — take on last night’s controversial finish in Game 1 against the Caps, saying officials set the standard on hits from behind by not calling penalties on Niklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, and that the Rangers have to meet that standard.

Here are the hits Vigneault’s referring to:

The latter, of course, has been the source of great controversy as it led to Joel Ward’s last-second winner on Thursday night. Backstrom put a pretty good lick on Dan Boyle but no penalty was called, much to the Rangers’ chagrin.

But for all the gamesmanship out of New York, the Caps weren’t just going to sit around and stay mum on the issue.

“(Fans) in front didn’t flinch,” Caps head coach Barry Trotz said, referring to ticketholders near the glass where the Boyle hit occurred. “Usually if it’s a questionable hit everybody jumps up and puts their hands up.”

Lundqvist thinks Backstrom’s hit caused Rangers to lose focus before game-winning goal

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The Washington Capitals took Game 1 of their series against the New York Rangers thanks to a clutch goal by Joel Ward with less than two seconds left on the clock. However, just before that goal Nicklas Backstrom delivered a questionable hit to Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle.

Backstrom wasn’t penalized for his actions and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist thinks there was a direct correlation between Backstrom’s actions and the way the contest ended.

“Obviously the last few seconds there, I feel like we all just kind of stopped when Boyle went down,” Lundqvist told the Bergen Record. “We lost our focus a little bit and gave up the last chance.”

Marc Staal, who qualified his comments by saying that he was going off of what was described to him as he didn’t see the incident in question, thought what Backstrom did “seems cheap.” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who seemed angry after the hit and subsequent goal, refused to comment on the referees after the game. For his part though, Backstrom defended his actions.

“I didn’t see the puck but I knew there was five seconds left and everything can happen,” Backstrom told CSN Washington. “I mean, it’s something we’ve been taught from when we were kids, to play until the whistle and that’s what we did.

“To be honest with you, I haven’t seen [the hit], so I can’t really say anything about it. But it looked like he was standing by the wall there. Hits like that happen every game, so …”

You can see what happened for yourself below (the hit occurs with about 5.5 seconds left on the clock):

Rangers try to take ‘tough’ loss (and finish) in stride

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The New York Rangers aren’t denying the bitterness that comes from their buzzer-beating Game 1 loss to the Washington Capitals.

Even so, they’ve generally said all the right things – or nothing at all – about the way things ended. Interestingly, Martin St. Louis provided the most critical take while admitting that he hasn’t seen a replay.

“I haven’t seen the replay but knowing Boyler, my guess is it was bad, and that allowed them to get that chance,” St. Louis said. “If Boyler doesn’t go down, they don’t get that chance. It’s tough to take, the late goal, but it’s how it happened that’s tough to take.”

Here Marty, check out the replay:

It’s likely that Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault has seen the replay, but he was probably wise to hold his tongue, as the Bergen Record’s Andrew Gross reports:

Beyond those comments about the goals, the Rangers supplied the usual “race to four” platitudes, which you really can’t begrudge them for (considering the jarring way they lost). It seemed like everyone also used the word “rough” or “tough” to describe the defeat.

Anyway, whatever way they feel, the Rangers must dust this off and get ready for Game 2 on Saturday.

New York second: Capitals stun Rangers for 1-0 series lead

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The Washington Capitals grabbed a Game 1 win against the New York Rangers with the kind of buzzer-beating sequence that won’t be forgotten for some time.

Nicklas Backstrom delivered a questionable hit on Dan Boyle before Joel Ward managed the 2-1 game-winner with less than two seconds remaining.

Boyle immediately left the ice, so we’ll see if the Rangers lose more than just the contest. The two teams brawled after the whistle, and one could assume that it had much to do with that Backstrom hit, Tanner Glass being sent sprawling onto Henrik Lundqvist and Chris Kreider’s collision with Braden Holtby.

Of course, it might have just been about the staggering series event that ended the contest.

The Capitals leaned heavily on Holtby in this one, as it seemed like he would make Alex Ovechkin’s first-period laser stand as the lone tally of the night. Instead, Jesper Fast was credited with a deflection goal with a little more than four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third, giving the impression that we’d get the first overtime squabble of the second round.

Obviously, that was not to be, as Ward found the net for another big goal. The guy just seems to have a knack for playoff scoring … especially when a new contract is on the line.

This loss really has to hurt the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers, but if previous Ovechkin/Lundqvist-era series are any indication, we could see many twists and turns before one team advances to the Eastern Conference finals.

Video: Kreider collides with Holtby

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It’s been a hectic third period for Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, and not just because the New York Rangers are pressing to tie Game 1.

Notorious crease-crasher Chris Kreider provided the most controversial moment, as he collided with Holtby. Judge that situation for yourself, as more than a few people were upset with the moment (which didn’t draw a penalty):

Holtby seemed in peril at times, as he also seemed briefly shaken up by a stick under the mask. (Perhaps he made a savvy move to get a whistle … or a combination of both?)

Those bumps and bruises will be easier for Holtby to manage if he can hold off the Rangers. Tune in to NBCSN to find out if he can.