Thursday, April 21, 2011

Playoff Round 1 Game #4 Recap: Caps 4 New York Ranger 3 (2OT)

It took 12:36 of the second overtime period for the Washington Capitals to come all the way back from the 3-0 hole they dug for themselves in the second period. After a hard hitting, scoreless first period the Caps were first pierced by a fluke goal that was shot from behind the net. The puck deflected off Matt Hendricks' skate and by Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth for a 1-0 advantage for the hometown Rangers. Eight minutes later it got even worse. The Rangers' Ruslan Fedotenko circled the net and threw a backhand at the net that turned out to be a perfect pass to Marion Gaborik who stashed the puck for a 2-0 lead. Seven seconds later it was 3-0 when Fedotenko gained the zone and fired the puck wide but all five Caps were in traced by the puck and Fedotenko gathered the puck and fed the slot where the Rangers' Brandon Dubinsky blasted a one-timer home. It looked really bad for the visitors as the crowd serenaded Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau for his comments about the general terribleness of their building and the unloudness of the fans. This fan wondered if it wouldn't be wise to pull young Neuvirth to save him from losing his confidence in the face of such terrible defensive breakdowns. But Boudreau held firm and that is why he is the head coach and I have an unpaid blog.

They must have put something in the water between periods because Washington looked like a different team in the third. Alexander Semin got the Caps on the board first when he intercepted a pass in the Ranger zone and fired it on net. New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist had trouble corralling the puck but appeared to cover it but play went on and it slid out and sat on the goal line where Semin tapped it in. Lundqvist argued that he had covered the puck but the whistle never blew so now it was 3-1. Less than a minute later Mike Green fed Brooks Laich coming into the offensive zone Laich breifly lost the puck in the left wing circle but regained the puck along the boards and fired a back door pass to Marcus Johansson who tapped the puck in at the far post. It was now a hockey game at 3-2. At the 12:07 mark the Caps would bring things back to level when John Carlson fired a slap shot from the left point that was clearly going wide but fortunately for the Capitals the puck hit Johansson at the side of the net and redirected straight in to tie the game at 3-3.

For the second time in the series the game went to sudden death overtime. In the first overtime the Capitals controlled much of the play but Lundqvist stood tall. Brooks Laich sent Alex Ovechkin in on a clear breakaway but Lundqvist stoned him with the glove. The Capitals had a golden opportunity when the Rangers were called for a delaying game penalty. The power play looked lively with Alexander Semin breaking down the defense and getting a couple of shots on but the Rangers held tough. The game went to the second overtime period. The teams looking more and more fatigued continued to battle but at the midway mark the Caps were caught with too many men on the ice. The Capitals penalty killers, although weary, were able to kill off the seventh Ranger power play on the night. The Caps kept pushing and were clearly the better team in the second overtime but just weren't getting that one bounce they needed. Finally they did when Jason Chimera took a drop pass at the Rangers blue line and fired a shot on goal and followed it to the net. Lunqvist made the save but was handcuffed by the puck. As he reached out to cover the free puck a defender tried to clear it to the corner but hit Chimera in the chest and the puck dropped in front of the empty net and Chimera tapped it in for the win and a 3-1 series advantage for the Capitals. The teams have two days off until they meet again on Saturday afternoon.

Of Note:
  • Michal Neuvirth stopped 36 of 39 shots in the victory. His 1.45 goals against average is second best in the NHL playoffs so far.
  • Marcus Johansson was named the game's #1 Star with 2 goals, a +3 rating, and he also made the little drop pass to Chimera on the game winner. 
  • The Capitals plan to cut down on the penalties didn't work out so well. For the second game in a row they gave the Ranger 7 power play opportunities but the penalty killers were up to the task and killed off all 7. In the series the Caps have killed off 17 of 18. Not bad at all.
  • With Mike Knuble out with an undisclosed injury Jason Chimera was elevated to the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. It didn't work out so well as the trio was on ice for two goals agaist but Chimera redeemed himself with the double overtime game-winning goal. He has 2 game winning goals in the series and 3 in 11 playoff games with Washington. Pretty clutch considering he only has 1 game-winner in 120 regular season game with the Capitals.
  • The Capitals out shot the Rangers 53-39 in the game and came on big time in the third period and first overtime out shooting New York 13-7 and 13-9 in those frames.
  • This was a big hitting game with the Ranger racking up 69 hits to the Caps 51. Matt Bradley led Washington with 7 hits in 10:59 of ice time.
  • Mike Green, John Carlson, Karl Alzner and Brooks Laich each had 1 assist.
  • Eric Fehr who replaced Knuble in the lineup was +3 in the game with 3 shots on goal and 3 hits.
Official Recap
Game Summay
Event Summary

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