Rangers deserved ‘a few more power plays’
Rangers coach Gerard Gallant was careful not to criticize the referees on Thursday night, but he didn’t leave anyone wondering if he thought Rangers deserved more of a power-play chance in their loss 3-1 in Game 5 against the Lightning.
« I did, » he said. « I really did, yeah. »
No Lightning player was called for a penalty during regulation – Rangers drew a minor bench for too many men at 7:48 of the third period and Erik Cernak and Steven Stamkos were called for brutality and fight after the final whistle. For a team that struggled five-on-five in this series — and made a living all year on the power play — that was a big hurdle to overcome.
In a tight physical game from start to finish, there were opportunities to whistle, particularly when Jan Rutta appeared to put Kaapo Kakko in a headlock during the third period, hampering his ability to play the puck, but to each time, the referees let them play.
« I think they had a great game, » Gallant said. “They let the team play pretty well, but I thought we could have had a few more. There is no doubt. »
Gallant also said that while he didn’t get a chance to watch it, he disagreed with K’Andre Miller’s second-period call for hanging out in the moment. Miller, back-controlling to break up a rush at Tampa Bay, was credited with putting his stick in the hands of Corey Perry.
« I didn’t think it was a penalty when it happened, » Gallant said. “Now maybe when I look at him, maybe he got his hands. I do not know. I didn’t think it was when it happened, but again, I didn’t watch it after.
Game 5 ended up being only the second time in the series that the Rangers failed to score on the man advantage. In Games 3 and 4 in Tampa, they only managed to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy five to four.
This reliance reached an unhealthy level, especially since the Rangers were completely outplayed five-to-five in both losses.
They had no such problems in Game 5, a relatively even game in which Tampa Bay came away with a 3-1 victory thanks to a late winner from Ondrej Palat and an empty net goal. But it is nevertheless difficult for this team to win games when they only have two minutes on the power play.
« The only penalty we kind of forced the call because there were six guys playing in the game, » Andrew Copp said. “So kinda forced to call that one. Maybe there’s a few others that were borderline [we] maybe deserved, but it wasn’t like they had seven power plays and we had one.
“It was a pretty tight, physical check, not a lot of power plays anyway. Maybe, but I can’t count on it.