October 2, 2014

Washington Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game 7: Capitals end season with crushing 5-0 loss to Rangers

“All we needed was one, to be honest,” said Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green after the Capitals’ season-ending loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

“Last night, just needed one to get us going. Tonight, we just needed one.”

Sometimes all it takes is the one lucky bounce, one lucky break, one goal, to get a team going. But the Capitals weren’t the beneficiaries of any such thing Monday night. Following a loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in Game 6 on Sunday, which tied the series 3-3, the Capitals hoped their win streak on home ice would keep going. But it was not meant to be. When it was said and done, the Capitals fell 5-0 to the Rangers, which ended their 2013 season.

The mood in the locker room was somber. A season-ending loss in the playoffs is harder to swallow than a regular season loss. Hockey players know that. The Capitals know that. Many of them have experienced only playoff failure during their careers. Nicklas Backstrom is one of them.

“It feels like deja vu. It happened before,” he said.

Backstrom was asked what lessons the team could take from this season.“Maybe learn how to play in the playoffs, I would say. It’s the same thing as previous years.”

Sentiments were much the same around the room. Things like these take time to process – coach Adam Oates responded to many questions by saying “ask me in a couple days.”

“It’s as tough as it gets right there,” said Eric Fehr. “It’s really disappointing. We played a hard series and we’re not even sure what happened tonight. It wasn’t good.”

He’s right – it wasn’t good. The Capitals weren’t good, and Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers were better.

Oates summed it up the best he could for the moment, but seemed at a loss, like many of the players. “Quite honestly, it’s tough to explain. It’s funny how over the years the seventh game turns into some form of blowout. I wish I had an answer for that. Obviously, we pushed very hard in the first period, even made a lot of great saves. They got a lucky one and every bounce seemed to go their way after that.”

This is playoff hockey, and the nature of the beast. Things could just as easily had gone the Capitals way. Things will surely become clearer for the players and coaches over the next few days, the wound will begin to heal, and they will take these lessons and move on to next season.

Washington Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 6 Recap: Lundqvist shuts out Caps to force Game 7

If you’re a fan of the Washington Capitals, you had to have figured it would come to this.

The New York Rangers — facing elimination in their own building — drew five power plays to the Caps none, their world class goalie played up to his legendary status, and one bad bounce — a deflection off his own defenseman — slipped past Braden Holtby, and the Caps fell to the Rangers 1-0, forcing an all-deciding Game 7 at Verizon Center Monday night at 8:00 pm.

Derick Brassard, a thorn in the Caps side all series long, was credited with the lone tally of the game — a slap shot from the high slot that deflected off Steve Oleksy’s glove at the top of the crease and caromed past Holtby midway through the second period.

The Capitals did not play particularly well for long stretches of this game, had trouble mounting a consistent offensive attack and, at times, had trouble getting out of their own end due to New York’s relentless forecheck.

But the story of this game, unfortunately, was the officiating. Referees Brad Watson and Marc Joannette called five penalties in the game before the final horn, and all five were against the Capitals. Two of the calls — against Jack Hillen and Mike Green — were for retaliation after a Rangers player instigated the rough play. Another — Eric Fehr’s elbowing call — seemed to actually come as a result of the Ranger player’s own gloved hand making contact with his face — if at all — after the two players collided shoulder-to-shoulder.

There have been two instances in this Stanley Cup Playoffs of the home team receiving all of the power play opportunities in the game. Watson and Joannette were the referees in both contests. That the Caps were ale to kill all five penalties is a testament to their renewed proficiency in the penalty kill — and the Rangers ineptness on their power play. New York is just 2-for-26 with a man advantage in the six games in this series alone. In contrast, the Caps have been successful on three of the 14 power play opportunities they’ve had in the series.

None of this should come to make light of the job Henrik Lundqvist — or Braden Holtby, for that matter — did between the pipes in Game 6. Both goalies were outstanding; Holtby early during the multiple power plays the Rangers had in the first period and Lundqvist particularly late, when the hard-charging Caps had the better of play 5-on-5, and then 6-on-5 in the last 80 seconds of the game when coach Adam Oates pulled Holtby for the extra skater.

It should also not be disregarded that the Capitals should have figured out a way to play physical without taking the retaliatory penalties. If the Caps fail to hold home ice advantage Monday night and lose this series, the biggest story from the Capitals side will have been their inability to stay out of the penalty box the entire series.

That being said, the Caps played a man down for long chunks of Game 6 and it disrupted their line combinations, offensive attack and game plan.

The Rangers were awarded their first power play at 10:01 of the first period. Replays showed Jack Hillen received a blatant and intentional “chicken wing” style elbow to the side of his head by Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan. Hillen responded with a hard cross-check to Callahan’s chest and was whistled for roughing. The call itself is dubious, as NBC’s color analyst Pierre McGuire described it: “I’m not sure that’s a penalty. I think that’s more of a ‘Captain of the New York Rangers on home ice against a young man out of Colorado College in Jack Hillen’ and that’s one of those where the veteran got more of a break.”

NBC never showed the play that instigated Hillen to retaliate though. However, TSN’s coverage did pick up the elbow, and you can make up your own mind to the nature of it.

Six minutes later, the delay-of-game bug bit the Caps again, with this time normally reliable defenseman Karl Alzner guilty of the infraction. As the Caps were in the process of killing that penalty, Eric Fehr and Brassard came together in front of the Rangers bench. Both players braced for impact and they collided shoulder to shoulder. Fehr, the taller player, followed through and got the better of the impact, with Brassard flailing wildly to the ice. But upon closer inspection, it appears that Fehr’s elbow never did make contact with Brassard and if anything, Brassard’s own gloved hand nicked him as he reeled from the collision.

Regardless, the dramatic fall that Brassard took — along with the heavy hit Fehr doled out — resulted in a 5-on-3 situation (the third of the series, all favoring the Rangers) as the frame wound down, which the Caps killed off deftly.

The third period saw two more calls go the home team’s way. On the first, Joel Ward was called for cross-checking a Rangers back-checking forward into the Rangers goal. Both players had speed and Ward got a good piece of contact. Had the hit happened at open ice, I don’t think anyone would have thought about it, but the Rangers forward went careening into the goal, knocking it from its moorings. Again, the hit was shoulder-to-shoulder, but Ward got sent off for a cross-check.

The final infraction came against Mike Green for a cross-check. He earned it, going two-handed across Derek Dorsett’s mouth, drawing blood on his top and bottom of Dorsett’s mouth. But the play that precipitated the retaliation this time was Dorsett’s check on Green — a dangerous “slew-foot” type maneuver — that so incensed Green to go after Dorsett. After the game, several Capitals’ players talked about what they perceived as the dirty play by Dorsett, a lesser-skilled player on the ice primarily to instigate and “stir the pot.”

Via Capitals Insider: “The one that we all had a problem with, obviously, was the one on Greenie. That’s a play that should be reviewed,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “It’s only because Greenie’s world-class, one of the best skaters in the world, that he didn’t fall on his back there. It’s a dirty slew foot and we’re short-handed from it. That’s the only one I think any of us have a problem with.”

As a testament to the physical nature of play in the series, and the escalating ugliness throughout Game 6, after the final horn sounded all 11 skaters on the ice came together in the corner to the right of Lundqvist and engaged in some more extra-curricular activity, which ended up with Green on the ice prone, trying to protect his head. Both teams were assessed two roughing minors: John Carlson and Troy Brouwer for Washington, and Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi for New York.

All of this sets up what should be a tense, physical, dramatic Game 7 Monday night at Verizon Center at 8:00 pm. Neither team has a particularly good history in this situation. The Caps are 2-6 at home in Game 7s, the Rangers are 0-5 on road in Game 7s. One organization’s tortured fan base is going to be able to cling to a ridiculous “curse” after Monday night, but you can rest assured those numbers mean nothing to the players.

Washington Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game 5: Ribiero nets game-winner in thrilling OT period

Caps celebrate after their game five overtime win in Washington, May 10, 2013 (Photo Courtesy of Brendan Sheridan/Hockeyshopped)

Caps celebrate after their Game 5 overtime win in Washington, May 10, 2013 (Photo Courtesy of Brendan Sheridan/Hockeyshopped)

After dropping the previous two games at Madison Square Garden, the Washington Capitals felt like they had something to prove to the New York Rangers. Losing another game in this series would put the Capitals on the brink of elimination – less than an ideal situation.

Instead, the Capitals triumphed in overtime thanks to a deft shot by Mike Ribiero. It was one of many that almost squeaked past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist Friday night. It was his first playoff goal as a Capital and his first career playoff game-winning goal. Ribeiro wasn’t too shabby in the faceoff circle either, winning 70 percent of his draws, 19, a game-high.

“It’s obviously a very big goal for him,” said coach Adam Oates about Ribiero’s goal. “He’s played pretty good hockey for us. He’s played well in the series and just hasn’t gotten one to go his way. “

The Rangers tallied the game’s first goal less than a minute into the first period, when Brian Boyle shook loose of the Caps defense. But the Capitals know how to play when they’re behind. If there’s one noticeable and admirable quality about Adam Oates’ Capitals, it’s that they don’t seem to get flustered even when they are down a few goals. The game they play while leading a game is the same one they play when trailing.

Joel Ward, playoff hero extraordinaire, scored on a Washington power play midway through the second period to bring the Capitals even with the Rangers. Not much would change until Ribiero sent the Rangers packing with his overtime game winner.

The overtime period itself was unlike anything seen during the rest of this series – and maybe in the whole of playoffs thus far. Both teams traded chances on either end for 10 minutes. It was end-to-end, adrenaline-pumping hockey. When Ribiero potted the game-winner, the Verizon Center crowd let their pent-up emotion erupt. If the roof could have been blown off the building, it would have happened Friday night.

Caps Tom Wilson makes his NHL Debut during game five in Washington, May 10, 2013 (Photo Courtesy of Brendan Sheridan/Hockeyshopped)

Caps Tom Wilson makes his NHL Debut during game five in Washington, May 10, 2013 (Photo Courtesy of Brendan Sheridan/Hockeyshopped)

Top prospect Tom Wilson made his NHL debut Friday night, at the ripe old age of 19. Postgame, Wilson was all smiles and seemed a bit lost for words to articulate his experience.

“It was everything I imagined. It was just unbelievable,” said Wilson. “The fans, you could hear them, everyone could hear them. It was just the best support we could have. And to have a finish like that — it was just a dream come true and everything I imagined.”

The Capitals now lead the series, 3-2, putting the Rangers on the brink of elimination. A win for the Capitals on Sunday will send them into the second round of the playoffs, but the Rangers could force a Game 7 if they are able to best the Capitals.

Oates says the key for the Capitals is how they start the game. “We talked about trying to have a better start, which we didn’t really have again tonight.”

“Obviously it’s going to be their barn, their building, their people,” said Oates. “It’s going to be electric. We’ve got to handle the first 10 minutes of the game; once we get into the game we’re okay. It’s good hockey, as you saw tonight, but we’ve got to have a good start.”

Game 6 is scheduled for Sunday at 4:30p.m. from Madison Square Garden.

Washington Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game 4: Too little, too late as Rangers tie series

After a strong effort but a defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers Monday night, the Capitals played their weakest game of the series so far, and after spotting the Rangers the lead. Despite a late finish, Washington couldn’t quite recover and saw their 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals evaporate in two games at Madison Square Garden.

Mental lapses dogged the Capitals again on Wednesday, as Braden Holtby’s ill-advised turnover, Jason Chimera’s needless penalty after Washington fought back to tie it and other defensive breakdowns were costly, as New York controlled most of the first 50 minutes and then the Capitals couldn’t pull even with a late kick.

Washington now faces a best-of-three series – with three games in four days – to advance to the next round of the postseason. If they don’t, they likely will remember the squandered lead they lost early this week in Manhattan.

The Rangers got on the board first last in the third period when a bad Holtby clear through the middle of the ice was intercepted by Taylor Pyatt. Hagelin picked up the loose puck and fired, but John Carlson blocked the shot attempt, but Holtby slid through the crease and past the net, allowing Brad Richards to deposit the puck in the empty net with 3:35 left in the first.

Just 2:01 after the Richards tally, Washington got a power play on a Michael Del Zotto penalty, but at the tail end of the advantage, a collision of Alex Ovechkin, Martin Erat and Ryan Callahan resulted in a pair of Washington penalties and a 5-on-3 to end the first period for New York.

Erat left the game after he lost his glove and slid into the cage, and the Caps had more penalty problems after Monday’s early issues.

However, the Capitals were able to kill off the remainder of the two-man advantage at the start of the second, but New York carried the momentum generated by the advantage, outshooting Washington 18-7 five minutes into the frame.

New York took advantage of that surge as Carl Hagelin blasted a pass in the top corner to give the Rangers their first two-goal lead of the series with 10:13 gone in the second.

Although Washington remained flat for most of the frame, Joel Ward gave the Capitals some life late in the second. Ward made a nifty move down the side towards the cage, deking around a sliding Michael Del Zotto and the corner of the net, then fed Matthieu Perreault who was parked at the side of the net for the Capitals’ first goal with 6:52 left in the period.

Washington then got the equalizer in the final seconds of the second thanks to Troy Brouwer, as he broke in with the puck into the Rangers zone and backhanded a shot past Lundqvist with just :18 left in the second period.

Despite being outplayed for most of the contest, the Capitals headed into the second intermission tied 2-2 even though they were outshot 26-15 through 40 minutes. However, a Chimera penalty at the end of the second proved costly early in the third.

With the power play to start the third and looking to turn the tide, New York did, as Dan Girardi used the man advantage to blast a puck past Holtby just 59 seconds into the third.

The momentum generated by the early goal carried over into the frame, as the Capitals were caught scrambling around in their own end and Derek Stepan was left alone by the net and put the puck past Holtby for a 4-2 lead.

Karl Alzner pulled the Capitals to within one just 1:29 later, putting a fluttering shot that deflected off Perreault past Lundqvist to make it 4-3.

However, despite some late pressure, the Capitals couldn’t overcome their early mistakes and now are tied 2-2, with Game 5 Friday at Verizon Center.

First Take Game 3: Rangers hold on late to hold serve in Game 3

They say a series hasn’t really started until a home team loses. Well, we still don’t have a series. The New York Rangers edged the Washington Capitals, 4-3, to win Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Some thoughts:

– Alex Ovechkin was whistled for a roughing penalty less than two minutes into the game. Ryan Callahan took one a couple of minutes later. Both calls were weak, most likely the result of officials trying to manage the contact in the game after the fiasco that the Montreal-Ottawa game the other night turned out to be. Neither team was successful on the resulting power plays.

– Steve Oleksy had a great stick lift on Callahan on one of the Rangers three power plays in the first period, most likely preventing a goal. He’s really surprised many with his play this season, joining the team as an unheralded journeyman but developing into a trusted blueliner for Adam Oates, Calle Johansson and the Caps.

– Backstrom’s tip for the Caps first period goal was a tremendous feat of hand-eye coordination, and a good job by John Carlson for getting the puck headed toward the net on a broken play.

– Braden Holtby lost the post on Brian Boyle’s short-side tally for the Rangers, but Mike Green didn’t do Holtby any favors on how he tried to play defense on the play. Green kind of squatted in Boyle’s passing lane, but wasn’t in any position to react when Boyle went hard to the post. It left Holtby trying to play the shot and the pass. His defender has to take away one of those options for the puck-carrier.

– The Rangers had the better of play early in the second, thanks to three straight Caps penalties, and their power play goal by Brassard was a result of it. But the Caps withstood most of the Rangers good play, then once they got back to even strength got the better of the Rangers, using good old-fashioned board work. Eric Fehr and Jason Chimera winning the puck along the boards out to Mathieu Perreault, who found a streaking Green for his second goal in as many games.

– Twice in the third period the Rangers took advantage of the Caps not being able to get out of their own end. Two extended periods of puck control and the Caps defense was eventually going to break down. It did.

– In that last power play as time expired, the Caps could not manage a shot on goal in 1:54 — playing 6-on-4.

– Though they got the last man-advantage, the Caps took six minor penalties. That’s way too many, plain and simple, regardless of the dubious nature of a couple of them. Caps outshot Rangers 30-18 at even strength, so they pretty much owned play at even strength. You can be sure Adam Oates will emphasize that point the next couple of days.

– Henrik Lundqvist, despite giving up three goals, led the Rangers in this win. He made several remarkable saves when the Caps were buzzing.

Game Four is Wednesday at 7:30 pm from Madison Square Garden.

Washington Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game 3: Capitals can’t grab 3-0 series lead

The Capitals had a golden opportunity to take a 3-0 stranglehold on their first-round series against the Rangers, but a slew of early penalties and a lack of success on their own power play late cost them Game 3 in a 4-3 loss at Madison Square Garden Monday night.

Although the Caps dominated 5-on-5 play for a bulk of the contest, the Rangers – sensing an urgent need to take the contest to have any chance in the series – scored twice in the third to grab the win. Derek Stephan tipped in a Rick Nash shot with just 6:25 left in regulation for the eventual game-winner.

The Caps had a chance late with an extra-man advantage for the game’s final 1:54, but Washington was a bit too passive even with a 6-on-4 and never really got a good chance for the equalizer on Henrik Lundqvist. Instead of shooting, they held the puck, and as a result, couldn’t force overtime.

Washington let a golden chance for a quick series win to vanish as a result, as the Capitals now will have to try and settle for a series split Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, with at least one more game in Washington now on tap for Friday night at Verizon Center.

The night started off well for Washington, as the Caps broke out in front just 4:06 into the game, as Nicklas Backstrom tipped a John Carlson shot past Lundqvist to give the Caps their first first-period lead of the series.

However, after Washington couldn’t convert on a power play shortly after, Joel Ward took a high-sticking minor in the defensive zone – in a flashback to last year’s Game 5 – and the Rangers scored as the minor expired to even the game as Brian Boyle to even the game.

The goal was the Rangers’ first since the first period of Game 1, breaking Braden Holtby’s shutout streak at 124:06, and also was the first goal directly off a Rangers stick in the series.

New York went up just 83 seconds into the second, scoring 8 seconds into a tripping penalty on Holbty as Darick Brassard rifled one past the Capitals netminder. Washington’s penalty-killers were put to the test over the first half of the period, giving up two more minor penalties, but were able to stay within one.

Once the penalty parade subsided, the Capitals were strong at even-strength over the remainder of the middle period, generating one power play and eventually a Mike Green equalizer, as he shot a blast past Lundqvist.

The Rangers, sensing the importance of winning the third period, came out fast in the third, and Aaron Asham caught the Capitals’ defense out of position and beat Holtby just 2:53 into the frame and gave the hosts the lead back.

Washington responded 4:22 later, as Jack Hillen’s shot from the point was tipped by Jay Beagle past Lundqvist, bringing the Capitals even and putting pressure on the Rangers.

New York pressed again after the equalizer, and were able to retake the lead with 6:25 left in regulation, as Derek Stepan tipped in a Rick Nash shot for a 4-3 lead for the hosts.

The Capitals got a late chance with 1:54 left in regulation as Brad Richards caught Alex Ovechkin under his visor for Washington’s third power-place chance of the evening. But Washington played a bit to casually with the power play and failed to convert with a chance to force overtime.

Washington has never held a 3-0 series lead in a best-of-seven series, and now are 0-8 in that situation, as the Capitals will look to earn the split Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Washington Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game 2: ‘Casual Mike’ Green’s OT goal, Holtby’s shutout put Capitals up 2-0 in series

Going into this series with the New York Rangers, the Washington Capitals knew there would be tight games against John Tortorella’s stingy shot-blocking team. Getting quality shots through defensemen and past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist would be key to the Capitals success.

Saturday afternoon,  the Capitals showed they were up to the challenge. After no score during three periods of play, all it took was a cool-headed Mike Green shot on the power play to win it, 1-0, for the Capitals, putting them 2-0 in the best-of-seven series over the Rangers. The goal was assisted by Mike Ribiero and Alex Ovechkin.

Green made sure to give credit to Ribiero for the pass. “He does such a great job drawing guys to him and obviously they are on Ovi, so I just happened to be open and my goal to get it by the first guy and try to hit the net,” he said.  It was his eighth career playoff goal, and his eighteenth career game-winning goal and the first overtime game-winning goal of his career.

“We talk about this a lot,” said coach Adam Oates on Green’s ability to score in high-pressure situations. “It’s a reason why I don’t want Mike to try too hard to be a scorer during the game because we need him to have the poise back there at a key moment when it’s a big power play, place is going crazy, there’s electricity. You need guys out there who are calm. That’s one of his gifts.”

Defenseman Karl Alzner agreed. “He’s a big-time player, he handles the pressure well. He’s calm all the time with the puck in regulation, so when it gets to overtime and guys start to get the shakes a little bit, he’s still calm Mike Green,” he said.

“He’s able to find those holes, it really is amazing, I wish I could do it like him. We call him Casual Mike every now and then,” Alzner quipped.

Special teams have arguably been the deciding factor thus far in this series. The Capitals’ penalty kill has been perfect, while the Rangers’ power play has been sputtering. Out of seven total Rangers power plays, the Capitals have allowed exactly zero Rangers goals. Conversely, the Capitals’ power play is firing on all cylinders. They have two goals on seven power play opportunities.

The Rangers had three power plays, not including two four-on-four situations, but the Capitals penalty kill picked a great time to click, only allowing two shots on the three Rangers man-advantages.

“We’ve been working hard and working together,” said center Nicklas Backstrom when asked about what’s working on the penalty kill. “That’s the biggest key, I think. They have really good players on their team, so you’ve got to make sure to take away all those options.”

The power play that led to Green’s game-winning goal was earned after a delay-of-game penalty was called on New York’s Ryan McDonagh – a situation that Karl Alzner was faced with earlier in the game. Alzner attempted to tip the puck out of the Capitals’ zone, but it bounced up over the glass. After the initial no-call on the play, the officiating staff called into Toronto to get clarification of the rule, and it was determined that the call made on the ice was correct. It is only a penalty if the puck is deliberately shot out of the zone and ends up over the glass.

Goaltender Braden Holtby recorded his first career playoff shutout, stopping all 24 shots that came his way.  Holtby downplayed his accomplishment, acknowledging that a personal milestone takes less precedence than a team victory. “A shutout’s one thing, but a win is the big thing,” he said.

The Capitals will take on the Rangers in Game 3 of the series at Madison Square Garden on Monday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m.

 

Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page. She grew up in Virginia and Maryland, currently resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. She combined her enthusiasm for the game with her love of writing after college. Katie has covered the Capitals as credentialed media for two seasons for several area blogs before joining the DSP staff. Katie works at a nonprofit organization by day but the rest of her time is devoted to watching, writing, and talking about hockey and perfecting her mean one-timer. You can follow Katie on Twitter@katie_brown47.

Washington Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game 1: Holtby and penalty kill shine as Capitals take 1-0 series lead over Rangers

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are not strangers, especially in the playoffs. This isn’t the same Capitals team that the Rangers defeated in seven games last season. Things are different for both teams this time around.

This time, the Capitals have the higher seed and home ice advantage. It was imperative that the Capitals take advantage of this early against a beatable Rangers squad. Behind great goaltending and solid penalty killing, the Caps turned back the Rangers, 3-1, to take a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series.

“It’s one game,” said Caps coach Adam Oates. “Obviously you want to win them all, but it’s one game. We are still holding serve at home and we’ve just got to get ready tomorrow for Saturday.”

Carl Hagelin went behind the net and put a shot on goal that deflected off Capitals defenseman John Erskine’s skate to give the Rangers their first and only goal of the night. Hagelin would later have a breakaway chance stopped by goaltender Braden Holtby that was arguably one of the turning points in the Capitals momentum, in addition to killing off all Rangers power plays, including a 5-on-3 situation in the second period.

“Big kill,” said Capitals coach Adam Oates of the 5-on-3 penalty kill. “I thought the breakaway that Holts [Holtby] stopped on Hagelin was the big one though. “

The Capitals started to get their groove back thanks to a power play goal by Alex Ovechkin, the 31st of his career, setting the Capitals franchise record for playoff goals surpassing Peter Bondra, with whom he was tied for that honor.

Steven Oleksy proved he was more than just a pretty face by not only setting Marcus Johansson up with a lovely stretch pass, but also took a puck to the face and didn’t miss even one shift.

Marcus Johansson’s go-ahead goal in the second showcased his speed and finishing ability. Since returning to the lineup after being sidelined with a concussion, Johansson has flourished on the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. It was his fourth career playoff goal.

It’s probably safe to say that Jason Chimera had a pretty good day. He scored a goal, the eight playoff goal of his career, and it was his birthday. A win was the icing on the cake for him.

Braden Holtby was unequivocally the difference in this game. Aside from the early Hagelin goal, he was solid all evening for the Capitals, especially on the 5-on-3 kill, and made 35 saves on 36 shots he faced. Holtby ranks fifth all-time in Capitals franchise history with eight playoff wins.  It is also interesting to note that in his fifteen career playoff appearances, he has not lost back-to-back games.

On the same token, the Capitals have not lost back –to-back playoff games in their last 15 playoff games. The last time that happened, the Capitals were swept out of the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning on May 4, 2011.

Game 2 is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2013 at Verizon Center, and Game 3 is scheduled for May 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

Washington Capitals Game 48 Recap: Fehr beats Bruins again on overtime goal; Caps face Rags in ECQFs

GREEN WITH TWO GOALS; CAPS TO FACE NEW YORK RANGERS IN STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

With the third seed in the Eastern Conference bracket of the Stanley Cup Playoffs sewn up entering the game, the Washington Capitals had very little to play for Saturday evening except health and pride. For the Boston Bruins, however, first place in the Northeast Division was still up for grabs, so the game had a little more significance.

An entertaining affair boiled down to overtime, and the Caps’ Eric Fehr, as he did earlier in the season, tallied the game winner in the extra frame as the Caps finished the NHL regular season with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, setting up a Quarterfinals Matchup with the New York Rangers for the fourth time in five years.

The Bruins gained a point and own a one-point lead over Montreal in the Northeast with one game to play.

Fehr’s tally came on a four-on-three power play, with Boston’s monolith Zdeno Chara off for hauling down Mike Ribeiro. Riberio found Mike Green with a cross-ice pass at the left-wing circle for a blast that Tuukka Rask couldn’t handle. The rebound popped into the slot, and Fehr slipped past defenseman Wade Redden to get enough of the puck with his backhand to flip it past the sprawled Rask (34 saves) and into the net. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 47 Recap: Capitals fall to Senators in overtime, 2-1

Since the Washington Capitals had already secured a playoff spot Tuesday, they didn’t have a lot to play for against the Ottawa Senators Thursday night. The Senators, however, were still trying to clinch a playoff spot as of Thursday.

An interesting juxtaposition, to be sure, but one that made Alex Ovechkin’s 600th game and the return of Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson otherwise uneventful up until late in the game.

Courtesy of an overtime goal by former Capitals defenseman Sergei Gonchar, Ottawa punched their Stanley Cup playoff ticket by virtue of a 2-1 win over the Caps before a subdued Verizon Center crowd. [Read more...]

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