The New York Rangers can take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night with a win in Ottawa. And while that shouldn’t be a major surprise considering that New York is the top seed in the Eastern Conference, things were looking dire for the Rangers only a few days ago when rookie left winger Carl Hagelin was suspended for a dirty hit on Daniel Alfredsson and New York choked on a third-period lead to lose Game 2 at home.
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan joined Michael Kay on ESPN Radio in New York to discuss his team’s bounce-back victory in Game 3, the debut of rookie Chris Kreider (in the playoffs, no less), the intensity (some might say over-intensity) that caused one of his teammates to receive a three-game suspension and how the incident has changed the way the officials are calling things.
On the importance of winning Game 3 in Ottawa Monday night:
“Yeah, it’s important. Especially giving up that Game 2 at home. You kinda just get that home-ice advantage back and obviously to get a win in Ottawa, which is a tough place to play, it’s a big win on the road for us.”
On the negatives they took away from the victory:
“Obviously we have to tighten up defensively. It wasn’t a perfect game by us, but there’s gonna be games like that in playoffs where your goalie has to come up big, and (Henrik Lundqvist) stood in there last night and came up with some key saves for us.”
On Chris Kreider’s NHL debut in Game 3:
“He played well. It’s tough for him, his first game. Obviously a lot of nerves, but you could tell from his size, his shot, he has a lot of speed, so I think he’s gonna be a good fit here.”
On if they used a tough Game 2 loss as motivation Monday night:
“I think some of us did. It’s tough. I mean, we’re up a goal with five minutes left to play and they tie it up and end up winning in overtime. It’s a tough one to swallow, especially at home. And it’s definitely part of the motivation going into that Game 3, is trying to get a little bit of payback. I think it helped us, too, going into that situation in the third when we’re up a goal again late in the third period, where we tried to stay more on an attack and not sit back. I thought we did that too much in the second game when we had the lead, and I thought we were successful with that.”
On if the officials notified the teams in advance that they’d be calling things tighter in Game 3:
“Yeah, they told us. We knew that, obviously with everything going around, that it was gonna be a tight called game. They really wanted to crack down on the scrums and make sure that there wasn’t too much going on after the whistles. I thought it was a well-reffed game and I thought it was a hard game, too. Both teams played well.”
On if he’ll talk with Carl Hagelin before he returns from the three-game suspension he’s serving for a high hit with an elbow that injured Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson:
“I think he knows. Obviously he feels bad about it, it wasn’t his intent at all. But like I said previously, you’re making a split-second decision where the guy’s moving a certain way and you’re moving a certain way and it’s sometimes hard to avoid him. But he realizes it, and I think the big thing for him is: stay physical, keep hitting and don’t let him change his game because of what happened.”
On Craig Anderson’s performance in net:
“Yeah, it’s tough. He played really well. We had a lot of opportunities where we thought we were gonna put the puck in the net where he stopped it. And I think when that’s happening, you just gotta keep shooting and keep getting guys in front of him and try to break up his rhythm. And I thought we were successful at that — we didn’t didn’t get frustrated, we kept throwing pucks at the net, we kept driving to the net.”