Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Capitals 2, Rangers 1
By Katie Strang
WHAT IT MEANS: With the chance to put the Capitals away in Game 6 and advance to the conference finals, the Rangers let the opportunity slip away with a 2-1 loss to the Capitals. They cut the Capitals lead to one goal with a deflected puck in the last minute of the game, but could not pull off the same late heroics of Game 5. The Rangers wasted a strong 21-save effort by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist with their inability to find the back of the net, and it wasn't for lack of chances. Illustrative of their power-play struggles throughout the game, the Rangers failed to cash in on a crucial four-minute opportunity in the second period to cut the Caps lead in half. Although their power-play delivered a pair of stunning goals in their frenzied Game 5 comeback Monday night, the unit went 0-for-5 at Verizon Center on Wednesday. The two clubs head back to New York for what is sure to be a riveting Game 7 at Madison Square Garden Saturday night.
FOUR-MINUTE BLUNDER: Trailing 2-0 in the second period, the Rangers squandered a prime opportunity to cut into the Capitals lead after Jeff Halpern’s high-sticking penalty gave New York a four-minute power-play. The Rangers managed only three shots on goal with the man-advantage; the best scoring chance of the entire power-play was actually Caps defenseman Mike Green’s shorthanded attempt.
ADDING ON: Capitals veteran forward Jason Chimeragave his team a rare two-goal lead midway through the second. The 33-year-old forward buried the puck at the left post after John Carlson’s shot deflected off Nicklas Backstrom. It was only the second two-goal lead of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Capitals, who have had 11 games decided by one goal.
EARLY ONE FOR OVECHKIN:Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into play, one-timing the puck from the high slot to beat goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for a power-play goal at 1:28. The early marker -- Ovechkin’s 30th career playoff goal – put Washington in good position. The Capitals entered Wednesday’s match 6-1 when scoring first this postseason.
SILLY SHOT: Another masterful performance by Ovechkin was accentuated by his rather unorthodox shot in the third, fired from the seat of his pants. Ovechkin passed the puck to himself while spinning on his backside and fired one on net that, although denied by Lundqvist, was one of the highlights of the night.
GAMESMANSHIP: Despite assurances from Caps coach Dale Hunter after Monday’s morning skate, defensive-minded center Jay Beagle was scratched with what is believed to be a knee injury sustained while blocking a shot in Game 5. Veteran pivot Jeff Halpern replaced him in the lineup, making his first appearance since March 23.