Friday, April 15, 2011

Jasons 2, Rangers 0

Capitals 2, Rangers 0 (Washington leads 2-0)
Game Summary

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
In what would be their best period of the series, the Capitals scored a pair of goals while their net minder Michal Neuvirth came up with the shutout. The only response the New York Rangers could come up with was Sean Avery's antics with seconds left in the game. It would do little to prevent Jason Arnott and Jason Chimera from scoring to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead in the series.

The first period in game two was almost opposite of game one. The Rangers came out with some authority and out shot the Capitals 13-7 getting the early chances. But Neuvirth stood strong and the Caps survived the early storm. They nearly got the first goal in the opening period while on the penalty kill. Brooks Laich blocked a shot and was to the races centering a pass to a breaking Mike Knuble. But Knuble shanked the shot wide. Matt Bradley was in the box for charging.

The late penalty kill out of the first period helped set up a better start to the second period. The Capitals kept their momentum through the first intermission to put the Rangers back on their heels almost immediately. It would lead to a chance for the little third line that could.

Before the game, Jason Chimera talked about how their line needed to shoot more. His self scouting payed off as Laich dug the puck free by diving for it behind the Ranger net. The puck trickled to Marcus Johansson who then tapped it to an open Chimera in front of the net. Taking his own advice, he shot the puck high and the shot beat Henrik Lundqvist over his left shoulder. The goal would send the VC faithful into a frenzy and give the Caps' third line their first goal of the series.

"We are pretty quick guys, all three of us," Chimera said of his line. "We use that to our advantage and we get in there and create some havoc and produce too."

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
It was followed by a flurry of chances by the Capitals that led to a roughing call against Ranger Ryan McDonough. On the ensuing power play, it looked as if the Rangers were once again going to thwart the Caps extra man advantage. But a simple slapper that was misdirected by a Ranger defender found it's way on Jason Arnott's stick. He easily beat a sprawling Lundqvist to extend their lead to 2-0.

While the Caps dominated the second period, they felt they let up a bit in the third period.

"[The Rangers] were coming on, we were hanging on," Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau told reporters. "I think the first ten minutes we hung on and the whole the third period we played in our own zone. I don't think that [if] we want to be successful in the end that can be done."

But as the third period rolled along, the Rangers did get more frustrated which led to some physical scrums in the crease and some Avery antics in the final seconds of the game. New York tried to pick up the physical side of the game, but it didn't lead to many scoring chances and often got them in penalty trouble.

With just under eight minutes left in the third, Karl Alzner sprung Alex Ovechkin free on a break away but Lundqvist came up with the big save. The Capitals were able to keep the Rangers at bay only allowing 6 shots in the third.

The Capitals power play did cash in and was 1 for 3 on the night. The Caps PK was able to hold off the Rangers killing off both late period penalties.

Michal Neuvirth continues to play outstanding for the Capitals this post season. It was his first career NHL playoff shut out, his second consecutive win in the post season and the game's number one star to boot. He got some help from his defenseman as they helped their net minder out by blocking shots by the buckets full, outshining the Rangers in that department 21-15. The Caps have out blocked a team known for their shot blocking prowess in back to back games.

 The series shifts to Madison Square Garden as the Caps look to put a strangle hold on the series by jumping out to a 3 games to none lead. The Rangers do not have the stronger numbers at home, most likely due to the fact that there is more pressure from their own fans. The Caps will be tested as the Rangers are now in desperation mode looking for any way to cut into their opponent's series lead.

Caps Notes:
  • Dennis Wideman skated in a warm up suit with gloves and a stick for the first time before the Capitals' morning skate. Wideman's return is still questionable for the second round of the playoffs, but it is an important first step for his return.
  • Tom Poti is a man still sitting on the sideline as the Caps' defensive core looks good so far in this series. Boudreau said Poti could be available for this series, but will not dress.
  • In just his third NHL playoff game, Karl Alzner has turned his game up a notch. Given the duties to matchup with the Rangers' top line, Alzner has 11 blocked shots in this series and is even. He nearly recorded his first point when he banked a pass off the boards to an open Ovechkin, giving him a break away. John Carlson, his defensive partner, and Alzner are quickly becoming the shut down duo for the Caps.

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