Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Caps Drop Game 1

Capitals 3, Rangers 4
Scoresheet - Times - Post

The Capitals could not have asked for a better start, except for a goal. The Caps out shot the Rangers 14 to 4 and kept the pressure on. But the Rangers survived the barrage of hits and shots and took advantage of their opportunities. The Capitals faltered to crack the Ranger defense late. The New York Rangers shock the Verizon faithful and take a one game lead in the series with a 4-3 win over the Capitals.

The Caps didn't get playoff performance from Jose Theodore. Of the four goals that beat him, all of them beat him top shelf. Theo seemed tentative and too far back in his crease. He didn't play aggressive out on top of the crease. Instead of playing in the playoffs, Theodore seemed like he was still in regular season mode.

"I'm not happy with my game," Theodore said. "I wasn't good enough. But in the playoffs, you bounce back and that's it. You have to turn the page."

Alex Ovechkin did come to play. Not only did help open the scoring with a power play assist in the second, he was just a force in the first half of the game. He had 6 shots and 6 hits in the first period alone. He finished the night with two assists. Tomas Fleischmann was credited with the first goal for the Caps.

The Rangers responded soon after. There were actually two blown penalty calls that allowed New York to tie it up. Nik Antripov interfered with Fleischmann allowing the puck to clear the zone and Sean Avery tripped up Mike Green allowing Scott Gomez an open path to the goal and the Rangers were on the board. From there, the Caps took two bad penalties and the Rangers capitalized on both chances stretching their lead to 3-1.

Viktor Kozlov saved face for the Caps in the second with a late tally. Nick Backstrom cut down the left wing side and Kozlov made a b-line to the net to score with under a minute left. Alex Semin tied it in the third Ovechkin threw the puck in front of the net and the rebound coming right to an open Semin. It seemed the Caps had won the momentum back, but the Rangers responded with the game winning goal.

The game winner was not all Theo's his fault. Jeff Schultz had a game he would love to forget. After mishandling the puck a few times he was deked out of next week by Brandon Dubinsky who undressed Schultz and scored the game winner. Just when it seemed the momentum shifted, it only took a few mistakes for the Rangers to unravel it all.

Avery had a target tonight and it wasn't Ovechkin. Avery seemed concentrated on Green who seemed to have brought his physical game to this opening game. Green was prepared for every hit and doled a few out himself. But Avery did catch Green along the boards near the Ranger bench. Avery hit him and tried to dump him into the bench. The hit was a good second after Green had released the puck.

The game took a physical tone early thanks to Matt Bradley and Shaone Morrisonn who both played their most physical games of late. Bradley opened the game with a huge hit that set the tone early and Morrisonn played his best defensive game I have witness in a while.

The Caps have a couple of days to right the ship. They need to be more precise with their passes as well as keep dumb penalties to a minimum. This is a much more aggresive forecheck team than what the Caps may have expected, and it seemed to cause problems for them down the stretch.

On special teams the Caps were 2 for seven, but the Rangers were better with 2 of 4 chances. The Caps had an opportunity in the third to go up 4-3 after they tied, but it looked as if they were trying to hit the home run play rather than just getting the puck to the net. The penalty kill was okay, but not great.

A funny moment in the third period, Ovechkin lost his helmet on a hit with Marc Staal. But play kept going until it was Ovi's turn to go back on the ice. Since a player cannot take the ice with out a helmet he had to borrow Bradley's. With no visor, Ovechkin may have looked a little weird as he made a hit and had a missed shot on net with the visor-less helmet.

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