Monday, April 30, 2012

Bounce Back

Capitals 3, Rangers 2 Series tied 1-1
Game Summary - Event Summary

Alex Ovechkin scored his third goal of the playoffs on the power play to even the series at one game a piece with the New York Rangers. Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots to get the game's first star and helped the Capitals to defeat the Rangers 3-2 and send the series back to Verizon Center all tied up.

Mike Knuble opened the scoring near the midway point of the first period when he tipped in a Joel Ward pass on a 3 on 2. Jason Chimera scored his third goal of these playoffs after Ranger netminder Henrik Lundqvist misjudged a dump in and Chimera beat him to it. He threw the puck back to the front of the net to an open Matt Hendricks, but the puck bounced around a bit before Chimera tipped the loose puck back toward the front of the net, it hit a Ranger defender's skate and went in for the 2-0 lead.

The Rangers would respond late in the first period when Brad Richards out muscled his way to the net and buried a Marion Gaborik pass to the slot with :42 seconds left. The Rangers would tie it in the third period on the power play when Micheal Del Zotto shot the puck from the point and it bounced off of John Carlson and then Ryan Callahan past Holtby. It set the stage for Ovechkin when the Rangers took not just one penalty, but two.

Brian Boyle, returning to the lineup for the Rangers, took the first penalty when he pulled down Mike Green on the half boards. The Caps were able to get some shots on net, but the Rangers were able to kill it off. But just :36 seconds later, Richards was nailed with an interference call on Carlson breaking into the zone. It would take Ovechkin all of four seconds on the second power play for him to shoot a sizzler past a sprawling Boyle and Lundqvist glove to give the Capitals the lead back. A lead they would keep for good.

Ovechkin, hounded by the MSG crowd each time the clock hit 8:00, was held to just one shot in game 1. Dale Hunter cut back on the forward's play time and the gimmick seemed to work. Ovi made the most of what little time he had to fire off seven shots in just 13:36 of ice time in game 2.

There was a little more jump in the Capitals play compared to game 1. It seemed they could not win the board game against the Ranger's speed. In game 2, the Caps were better able to deal with that pressure by bring help down from the forwards with the Rangers tried to set up behind the net. 

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Braden Holtby certainly made good on his promise to play better in game 2. He had some help with the defensive core blocking 24 shots in front of him. He made a few big stops including a stop on rookie Chris Kreider on a break away that led to the Chimera goal just seconds afterward.

The Caps' special teams finally got a power play goal, but they also gave up a goal on the PK.  While the power play was frustrated at times, Ovechkin's wrister seemed to catch everyone off guard. The Caps' PK was solid again, as it took a tipped shot, off of several different players for the Rangers to score with the man advantage.

Now in perfect position after splitting the games in New York, the Capitals have a chance to once again take the series lead on home ice. If they learned their lesson from the earlier round, the Caps need to jump on the Rangers early at home and keep up their tight checking style in the defensive zone. The mantra of this team is resiliency, which is nice early in the series. But it would be wise to put the pressure on the team from New York by taking the series lead.

Caps Notes:
  • Alex Ovechkin's third period goal is his career 5th game winning goal in the playoffs. Ovi also continues his stretch of not going consecutive games in a series with out a point. He was held pointless in game 7 against the Bruins and game 1 versus the Rangers.
  • Jason Chimera only has 6 career goals in the playoffs, three of which have come at Madison Square Garden. He has scored in three straight playoff games at MSG with the first goal the overtime series clinching goal in last year's playoffs.
  • Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle both have goals this post season, but these are the first assists the pair have in these playoffs.
  • Braden Holtby's parents were in attendance at MSG.

No comments: