First the numbers:
In the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs, 229 teams have gone up 3-1 in a best-of-seven series, and they have closed it out 91.3 percent of the time. Twenty teams have come back from 1-3 — although it has happened 18 times in the last 22 years, the last in 2004, and three times in 2003.
You have to give it up at least a little bit to the captain. Chris Drury playing with what is likely a broken hand — somebody in the pressbox said he won the game “single-handedly” — did two things. It gave Brandon Dubinsky more minutes on the second line, and he contributed mightily (as he did in that spot in Game 1, which Drury missed), especially on the first goal.
Then Drury scored the game-winner.
That happened when the captain took Derek Morris’s hard cross-ice pass and found himself breaking down the left side, but with only one hand the best he could muster was a knuckleball of a wrist shot that barely reached the net. The pace and the drop of the soft shot may have fooled Varlamov, though, because he juggled it. Lauri Korpikoski had one shot at the loose rebound, and Drury jumped on the second, putting it behind Varlamov from a bad angle in close, the 47th playoff goal of his career, at 2:23.
Drury said the guys were chuckling about the first shot, but it sure inspired them when he put in the second.
“Huge,” Mara said. “Dru’s been awesome for us and he’s battlign through some things (with which) a lot of players probably wouldn’t be on the ice. But he’s our leader, we follow him, and he’s come up with clutch goals for many years now. And he was huge for us tonight.”
This is what John Tortorella said:
“That was great. He’s an easy guy to play for and he’s a very important guy in the lockerroom. He’s much healthier within the past couple of days. I think he’s got some things figured out. Is he all there? No. But we had to make a decision: Do we take him out or do we stick with him and give him time in certain situations and see what he can give us versus bringing in another player, and that was the call. I felt Chris was healthy enough to add, he felt he was healthy enough to add, not jusy put the uniform on. He was honest with me, and I thought he did some good things for us, and obvously he scored the winning goal. That’ll help him. In playoff hockey, the lockerroom is a very impirtant thing as far as the camaraderie and I think that was very important for our team for Chris to do something like that in this game to more or less band together with him.”
Tortorella didn’t sound too happy about the penalties, especially those by Sean Avery — the last two were very undisciplined, and the last one could be reviewed by the league (he hatcheted Brian Pothier across the neck and was lucky Pothier wasn’t injured because it could have been a major penalty and a certain suspension).
“I’m not going to talk about that stuff with you guys. I have issues with a number of things that went on tonight but that will be in the lockerroom. We’ll just keep that in the lockerroom.”
He sounded more unhappy with those who committed the penalties than who called them.
“We fought and we scrambled at times and Hank had to make some big saves. It’s just a matter of finding a way to get a win. It took us the whole 60 minutes to get a win, but it is a win. We’re going to have to try to improve in a number of areas, starting with our discipline. I don’t know how many penalties we had, and no just Sean. That’s just too good of a power play to be in the box.”