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Rangers Kick Off Playoffs With a Bang

A well-timed timeout leads to a one-sided Rangers win

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Apr 13, 2012  |  Updated 7:22 AM EDT
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The Rangers got off to a good start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a convincing 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden.  Here's a happy Rangers locker room following the win.

NBCNewYork.com

The Rangers got off to a good start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a convincing 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden. Here's a happy Rangers locker room following the win.

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When a team scores in the first period, leads the entire rest of the game and ends up winning 4-2, it seems odd that the biggest moment of the contest was their coach's decision to take a timeout halfway through the second period.

But in the Rangers' resounding Game One win, it was.

After a strong first period highlighted by a Ryan Callahan goal, the Rangers started dragging a bit early in the second. John Tortorella didn't like what he was seeing from his team in a game that could flip in an instant.

But Tortorella didn't lace into his team during the stoppage. He chose a more measured way of expressing his dissatisfaction with the level of play they were showing. Tortorella pushed the right buttons.

After the timeout, it looked like the Garden ice was slanted toward the Ottawa goal as the Rangers poured the pressure on Craig Anderson's net after much of the first half of the period was spent around Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers were up to their usual tricks, winning battles for pucks and keeping the Senators from getting comfortable in the offensive zone while starting, and that eventually broke the game open. 

Marian Gaborik scored a pretty goal with just under three minutes to go in the second, and then Brian Boyle put one home a couple of minutes later to put the Rangers up 3-0. The Garden was rocking, the Senators looked shell-shocked and a Brad Richards goal off a perfect feed from Carl Hagelin turned things into a party early in the third period.

Lundqvist's work in keeping the Senators off the scoreboard until that momentum-changing timeout shouldn't be forgotten. He made several good saves while the rest of the team tried to find their legs, and a couple of goals late in the third only changed the way the game looked on the scoreboard.

Getting the win in the first game is huge, obviously, but that mid-game reminder from Tortorella that the Rangers had to focus on playing their game was very big as well. The biggest obstacle the Rangers are going to have in this series is themselves -- something proven by how easily this game went in their direction as long as they were playing their game.

If they can do that again on Saturday night, they'll be off to Ottawa with a commanding lead in the series.

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