If John Tortorella wrote down a realistic wish for how Game One of the Rangers' series with the Capitals was going to play out, he probably would have written something like what he got for the first 54 minutes of Wednesday night's game.
His Rangers, as they have all season, played with a surplus of determination that made their relative lack of talent a non-issue against the Eastern Conference's best team. They blocked shots, harrassed opponents and kept coming in the face of a team that was outplaying them in pretty much every facet of the contest.
And then there was Henrik Lundqvist. As always, the King came to play and made highlight reel save after highlight reel save over the first two-plus periods to keep his team in a game that a lesser goalie would have given away.
It looked like all that effort and all that goaltending would pay off when Matt Gilroy potted a perfect pass from Wojtek Wolski early in the third period. All the Rangers had to do now was be themselves and hope that the superior Washington talent didn't win out in the end.
Alas, that's exactly what happened. Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin stormed the net with just over six minutes to play and forced a puck past Lundqvist to tie it.
Then, with less than two minutes to go in overtime, Semin capitalized on a shoddy Rangers clear orchestrated by Chris Drury and Marc Staal to win the game. The slapper was a thing of beauty and the kind of shot that few Rangers are capable of pulling off themselves.
One of the few guys that has that in his arsenal, Marian Gaborik, failed to show up on the scoresheet once again. He had some good chances, though, and the optimist in you has to believe that one of those tries will result in glory before the series comes to a close.
Mix that with the relentlessness of the team and Lundqvist and you might just have enough offense to win the darn thing.
The pessimist in you has to wonder if that's going to be enough, though. The Rangers are clearly outgunned and their ability to make a game out of things won't necessarily translate into their ability to actually win four of the next six contests.
The good news about Wednesday is that the Rangers made Game One into their kind of game. Now they just have to figure out a way to make that stand up when the final buzzer sounds.