The Rangers really are trying to convince us … and probably more accurately, trying to convince themselves, that the task they now face is not impossible.
â€œWe have a chance to make history,â€ Jaromir Jagr said. â€œWhat else? It might be my last game, man. Letâ€™s make it special.â€
He sounded sad when he said it, sad that the next game, or the game after that, really could end his NHL career. Maybe he knows what we don’t know and he’s not letting on. Maybe he doesn’t know for sure yet. Maybe it really is up to the Rangers. Maybe it’s not.
But tonight, this was really the elimination game, because nobody comes back from 0-3. It happened twice, as you know—1942, when the Leafs did it to the Red Wings in the finals, and in 1975 when the Islanders did it to the Penguins. More often, a team that goes down 0-3 mails in Game 4. Or gives it a token effort and goes down. Or gives it everything and that isn’t enough.
It’s hard to say the Rangers haven’t played hard in this series, but it’s hard to say they’ve played anywhere near well enough to beat a Pittsburgh team that still seems eminently beatable, but very, very sound.
And when it was 3-3, and the Rangers had the Penguins trapped in their own end for what seemed like an hour late in the second period, and the crowd had awakened from its moaning, groaning nap, Ryan Hollweg’s penalty helped Pittsburgh get back to hits feet and get the lead.
Tom Renney admitted that was a tough penalty to take, and added that “nobody feels worse than Ryan Hollweg” and that the Rangers very nearly had it killed off.
Ryan Hollweg: “I was playing my game.”
That was the turning point, and it was the worst decision a Ranger made all night, but it certainly as far from the only reason they lost. Now they’re in trouble. If they’d won tonight, being down 2-1 would have felt, at least for a couple of days, that they were tied or even ahead in the series. But 0-3, that’s a whole other animal.