Sunday, April 17, 2011

Broadway Revival

Capitals 2, Rangers 3 (Washington leads 2-1)
Game Summary

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Playing desperation hockey, Brandon Dubinsky and the New York Rangers proved they could play close games too. Out working the Capitals, the Rangers claw their way back into the series thanks to a late third period goal despite the Caps rallying twice to tie up the game. They feel better about themselves and cut the Caps' lead in the series by beating them 3-2.

The Capitals got into some pretty bad penalty trouble early and often in this game. Taking a whopping 8 minors and even giving the Rangers a couple of 5 on 3 opportunities, they Caps tempted fate one too many times. Even though their PK was outstanding, allowing only one goal in 5 chances for the Rangers, the Caps would go down when John Carlson took a frustration penalty against Brian Boyle and both teams would play four on four.

While the Rangers took the early lead, the Caps would answer Erik Christensen's pretty roofer goal. Mike Green tried to wind the puck in deep, but would lose it after Marc Staal leg whipped him. The puck dropped to Jason Arnott who shot it to an open Alex Ovechkin breaking to the net. Ovi tips in his second goal of the playoffs.

The Rangers would take the lead again after a breakdown in the zone for the Capitals. After a Staal point shot that Michal Neuvirth couldn't control, the rebound found a wide open Vaclav Prospal who buried the puck past the sprawled goaltender.

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Marion Gaborik took a cross checking penalty at 13:38 in the third giving the Caps only their third power play of the game. They made good use of it though as the Caps moved the puck around the zone until a Nick Backstrom shot rebounded out front to Mike Knuble who slipped it passed a stretched out Henrik Lundqvist. Again the Caps gained momentum and were looking strong following their goal.

But then John Carlson got a little too involved with Brian Boyle and the pair were sent to the penalty box. It would create a four on four situation late in the third. Even though it looked as if the Caps were content with the open ice, a misread in their own zone drew a pair of Capital defenders into the corner. That allowed an open lane to the net for Dubinsky whose shot was initially saved by Neuvirth, but it warbled up over the Caps' net minder and found it's way into the net with just 1:39 left in the game.

It would be the game winner and there just wasn't enough time for the Capitals to respond. The Caps did seem a beat slow, most likely due to the way the Rangers came out in this game. It was a tough battle all game for both teams and honestly, the score could have tilted either way.

The Caps did get a break late in the second period when Neuvirth was beat again along the goal line. But time in the period had run out and the review confirmed the puck did not cross the line before the game clock read all zeros. It would be the only break the Caps would get.

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
It seemed even the tacky stuff the Caps were getting a penalty for. Called for 8 minors in the game compared to only 4 for the Rangers, the Caps spent a large part of the game killing off penalties. It killed any offensive momentum they had built and tired out the players the Caps needed the most down the stretch. Both teams scored on the power play, even though the Caps only had 3 chances to do so.

The Rangers successfully defend home ice and gain some ground in the series by cutting the Caps lead in half, now two games to one. The Caps have some time to recoup for this one, and will actually travel back home before returning for Wednesday night's game 4. Game five will be needed and NBC looks to have picked up the game on Sunday in DC.

What the Caps have to repair for game four is shoring up a bit in the defensive zone. Bruce Boudreau seemed quick to switch up his lines, breaking the top line up to add Semin and breaking up the third line that saw Jason Chimera, Marcus Johansson and Brooks Laich playing on different lines. The reason is partly to be blamed on the amount of penalties the Capitals took. Tired penalty killers were not able to rejoin their lines after killing off a couple of minutes.

It's not quite the end of the world for the Capitals. It was to be expected that the Rangers would not go down with out a playing tough in a game or two. The Caps need to play with a tad more discipline and more pressure on the power play wouldn't hurt. Caps have a chance to take a step back, rejuvenate and return on Wednesday night to put themselves up to a two game lead again.

Caps Notes:
  • The Hershey Bears tie up their series at one game a piece with the Charlotte Checkers with a 4-2 win. The Bears got goals from Patrick McNeill, Andrew Kozek, Brian Willsie and Sheldon Souray. Braden Holtby stopped 22 shots to help the Bears even the series up. Prospect Dmitry Orlov was the game's number one star.
  • This would be the first loss in regulation by the Capitals since aquiring Jason Arnott. A record of 12-1-1 during that stretch.
  • A freak accident by referee Chris Rooney as he skated past the net behind the play forced back up referee Fredrick L'Ecuyer had to replace him causing a long break in play in the second period. Rooney apparently twisted a knee or ankle when he was caught up in the net behind Michal Neuvirth.

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