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Ex-Blackhawks forward Carcillo upbeat on Rangers’ comeback

Updated: June 10, 2014 11:08PM



NEW YORK — Having just lost their third straight game to the Los Angeles Kings, the Blackhawks stood in the visitors’ dressing room at Staples Center and collectively shrugged. No big deal, they said. We’ve still got this, they said. They were almost unnervingly calm, unbelievably unperturbed. And sure enough, down 3-1 in the series, the Hawks stormed back to take the Western Conference final all the way to overtime in Game 7 before finally succumbing to the indomitable Kings.

On Tuesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers sounded different. Looked different, too. Their heads hung, their voices were low. Down 3-0 to the Kings and facing the distasteful possibility of watching the Stanley Cup paraded around their home ice on Wednesday night, the Rangers appeared to be a beaten team.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” team leader Brad Richards said. “It’s pretty much impossible to be upbeat.”

Richards and his coach Alain Vigneault expect Wednesday — game day — to be different. They expect the pressure and the energy and the crowd to carry them and help them salvage some dignity and salvage some hope that they can do what only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs have done — win a Stanley Cup after losing the first three games of the Final. And they hope to draw on their experience of rallying from 3-1 down against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of these playoffs.

But Tuesday was a virtual day of mourning. And the surest sign that the Rangers are hurting for confidence and swagger was the talk of “puck luck,” and how the Kings are getting all the breaks. It’s a team grasping for answers after letting the first two games slip away, then getting beaten 3-0 at home despite allowing just 15 shots on goal.

In Game 3, Jeff Carter scored a backbreaking goal with 0.7 seconds left in the first period when his shot ticked off Dan Girardi’s skate and past Henrik Lundqvist. In the second period, Mike Richards’ pass on a two-on-one was blocked nicely by Ryan McDonagh, but the puck came right back to Richards’ stick for an easy goal. Then there’s the non-call for goalie interference on Dwight King’s game-turning goal in Game 2, among other examples of the Kings’ apparently charmed life.

“An inch one way, an inch the other way,” Girardi said. “The first one [goes] off my skate a little higher, Hank stops it. A little lower and I block the shot. Just hits my skate and goes in, and that’s kind of how it’s been going for us. … [McDonagh] makes a great play off his skate, it just goes right back to Richards, right on his stick, and he has a wide-open net. That’s been tough for us, but nothing we can do about it right now.”

Said Brad Richards: “I’d love to take a wrist shot that goes off a knee of the other player and goes in, like last night. You can’t draw that up. The first one goes off Dan’s heel, you can’t draw those things up.”

Lundqvist said after the game that “it feels like they had the luck so far in these three games,” but said Tuesday that great teams make their own luck — and capitalize on it. After all, the Rangers had plenty of chances Tuesday night, including golden opportunities for Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard that Jonathan Quick managed to stop.

“You earn it,” Lundqvist said. “You earn your luck by working hard and making good decisions. I look at the goals [in Game 3], and it’s some skill, yeah, but there’s some luck, too. … We’re going to have to play really well, and we’re going to have to rely on some luck, as well, in some situations. That’s just the way it goes. That’s the way the game is played.”

It doesn’t sound like a confident team, a team that truly believes it can come back from a 3-0 deficit. Former Blackhawks winger Daniel Carcillo — who is eligible to return for Game 4 after serving his six-game suspension for physically abusing an official — was on the Hawks team that came back from 3-1 down against Detroit in 2013. And he was on the Flyers team that came all the way back from 3-0 down in the 2010 playoffs. He knows it can be done.

“No team is the same, but it’s the same feeling that we have in this room, there’s a belief that we can always come back,” Carcillo said. “You can always win a game as long as we have time on the clock and an opportunity. … They’re not unbeatable.”

It remains to be seen if his teammates truly feel the same.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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