November 18, 2017

Washington Capitals Second Round Game 6 Recap: Late rally not enough as Rangers force Game 7 with 4-3 win

Down 4-1 in the third period, the Washington Capitals nearly dug themselves out of a deep hole. With nine minutes and change left, they pulled back within one goal of the New York Rangers but a late power play was squandered and the Caps could not find the equalizer. In falling to the Rangers 4-3, the Caps are forced into playing their second Game 7 in as many series this postseason Wednesday night back at Madison Square Garden.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Second Round Game 6 Recap: Capitals melt down in first period, Rangers force Game 7

EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL GOES TO DECIDING SEVENTH GAME IN MANHATTAN

Down 4-1 in the third period, the Washington Capitals furiously tried to dig themselves out of the hole they had dug themselves into, trimming the deficit to just one with still over nine minutes to play. But despite being awarded a misgiven late power play, the Caps could not find the equalizer and fell to the New York Rangers 4-3, forcing Game 7 Wednesday night back at Madison Square Garden.

Faced with elimination for the second game in a row, the Rangers proved to be the more desperate team Sunday night — at least for the first 20 minutes of the game and first five minutes of the third period. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals fall in overtime to Rangers, series comes back to DC

Ryan McDonough scored 9:37 into overtime and the New York Rangers staved off elimination, beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 at Madison Square Garden, moving the series back to Washington with the Caps holding a three games to two lead.

The Rangers’ Chris Kreider forced overtime with a goal with just 1:41 remaining in the third period.

Curtis Glencross gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead midway through the third on a breakaway goal, but despite Braden Holtby’s best efforts (41 saves), the Caps couldn’t make it stand up.

We’ll have full coverage of the Caps Game 5 loss later on District Sports Page.

 

New World Order: Capitals frustrating opponents with “playoff hockey”

The quotes that came out of the New York Rangers room after their Game 4 loss to the Washington Capitals had an eerie and familiar quality to them for fans of the Caps.

“Offensively, we’re fighting it,” center Derek Stepan said. “We haven’t done it all year and, right now, we’re fighting it. [The Caps] are doing a lot of good things defensively and they’re blocking shots and when we’re getting our looks, [Braden] Holtby’s making saves. It’s certainly frustrating.”

“It feels like they have an answer for everything,” said Derick Brassard, the Rangers’ lone goal scorer.

“It’s not like we’re playing bad,” Brassard said in the postgame. “We’re playing some good hockey. It’s just we didn’t have that problem all year scoring goals, and now they’re making it really challenging for us. They block everything. They’re in front of the lanes.”

If Caps fans hear those words and think they sound familiar, it’s because that’s what the Caps used to say routinely as they were frustrated by defensive-minded teams and ousted from playoff series after playoff series in year’s past.

It was five years ago this month that forever changed this franchise. After winning a President’s Trophy, the Caps entered their first-round series with the Montreal Canadiens as prohibitive favorites. Not just in the series, but to win the whole dang thing.

But the Canadiens dumbed down the hockey, packed their defensive end, and rope-a-doped the Caps into outshooting themselves and eventually won the series in seven games. It’s a very similar stance the current iteration of Capitals are carrying out against the Rangers, this season’s President’s Trophy winners.

It might not be entirely intentional. This Caps team would like to play with more pace and score a few more goals. But so far the recipe has them on the brink of advancing. We’ve seen this movie enough times to know that nothing is over until it’s over, but the Capitals can’t be in a better position to succeed after four games.

The frustration coming out of New York is palpable. The Rangers want to use their speed and skill to play an up-tempo game. They don’t believe the Caps can keep up with them in a track meet. That was the case here for many seasons, as well. But that seems like many, many moons ago.

Since that April disaster against Montreal, players have come and gone. Three different head coaches have lost their jobs. The general manager was fired. That was five years ago, if you can believe it.

Now, Barry Trotz has the Caps playing the defensive stance. The Caps are being lauded for their hard work, their intensity, their brand of “heavy” hockey. The Caps are dominating in the faceoff circles. The Caps are winning battles along the boards and in the slot — on both ends.

The Caps are playing “playoff hockey”, and Trotz has them one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Nothing is over until its over, but the Caps have to like where they are sitting and the effort they’ve exerted to get there.

Washington Capitals Second Round Game 4 Recap: Burakovsky scores twice, Caps one win from advancing over Rangers

With every clap producing a louder concussive effect than the one prior, and every scream and shout seemingly ricocheting around the arena, the Washington Capitals sapped every ounce of energy from their adoring fans and moved that much closer to doing something very special.

André Burakovsky scored magnificent goals in the second and third periods, and Braden Holtby continued his borderline absurd playoff run as Washington defeated the New York Rangers 2-1 on Wednesday night at Verizon Center. The win gives the Capitals a commanding 3-1 series lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

[Read more…]

Capitals beat Rangers 2-1, move to brink of Eastern Conference Final

In front of arguably the loudest crowd all season, the Washington Capitals rode two goals from Andre Burakovsky and another rock-solid effort between the pipes from Braden Holtby to a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Verizon Center.

After ceding the game’s first goal, Burakovsky scored in the second and third periods, each time producing a highlight-reel effort that blew the roof off the arena.

A ho-hum 28-save night from Holtby featured a third-period save on a penalty shot from the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin.

The win moves Washington one victory away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1998, when they eventually went to the Stanley Cup Final. The series now moves to Madison Square Garden, where a potentially decisive Game 6 takes place on Friday night at 7 p.m.

Washington Capitals Game 3 Recap: Beagle, Holtby lift Washington to 1-0 win, 2-1 series lead over Rangers

Another skittish first period gave way to a high-flying second, and both stellar goaltending and a playoff-type goal by one of head coach Barry Trotz’s favorite players proved to be enough.

Jay Beagle had the game-winning goal in the second period, and a 30-save shutout from Braden Holtby paved the way to a 1-0 win for Washington on Monday night at Verizon Center. The Capitals now hold a 2-1 series lead over the New York Rangers in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinal.

[Read more…]

WASHINGTON CAPITALS TAKE GAME 3 BEHIND HOLTBY SHUTOUT

Another skittish first period gave way to a high-flying second, and a playoff-type goal by one of the less-recognizable Washington Capitals proved to be enough.

Jay Beagle had the game-winning goal in the second period, and a consistently strong backcheck and simply sensational effort from Braden Holtby paved the way to a 1-0 win for Washington on Monday night at Verizon Center. The Capitals now hold a 2-1 series lead over the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinal.

Full story coming later tonight.

Washington Capitals Second Round Game 2 Recap: Rangers earn split at Garden with 3-2 win

Coming off their last second win in Game 1 of their best-of-seven game series, on the road in Madison Square Garden, the Washington Capitals had to know they would face a desperate New York Rangers team in Game 2 on Saturday. The Rangers came out fast and furious, as despite the best efforts from the Caps’ captain, the home team forged a split of their home games, topping the Caps 3-2 before a somewhat subdued matinee crowd.

This one could not have started worse for the Caps. Just 38 seconds in Chris Kreider buried a rebound wide open from the slot after Derek Stepan and Jesper Fast combined to create the original shot on goal.

The Rangers continued to buzz the Caps ends the entire frame and at 15:40, with Joel Ward off for hooking, New York found paydirt again. This time, a clearing attempt by Troy Brouwer struck a linesman, deadening the puck at the blue line.

Dan Boyle collected and flung a shot toward the goal that sneaked past Holtby shortside as Rick Nash and Karl Alzner completely blocked Braden Holtby’s view. It was the first power play goal the Caps have allowed in this playoffs, after killing 17 consecutive penalties.

But the Caps had one more penalty to kill in the period, as Tom Wilson was called for charging with just over two minutes to play in the frame. They got the job done, but went to intermission down 2-0, and outshot 15-4 with total shot chances at 29-6.

The Caps woke up a bit after the intermission, cutting into their shots on goal deficit. Several good chances were spoiled by both goaltenders as the game opened up. With just over six minutes to play in the period, though, the Caps struck.

Evgeny Kuznetsov lost a defensive zone draw, but was able to recover the puck regardless. The young Russian skated through the neutral zone and sent the puck hard to the end boards, where Jason Chimera outraced the defense and sent a shot in against Henrik Lundqvist.

The King made the initial save but the puck came back into the slot. Trailing the play, Kuznetsov found the rebound between Dan Boyle’s legs and redirected the puck past Lundqvist to reduce the Rangers lead to 2-1.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Holtby was standing on his head. Twice he was forced to make point-blank saves on a streaking Kreider, who the Caps defense seemingly had no answer for in this one.

Indicative of the Caps picking up their play in the second period: they outshot the Rangers 16-12 in the stanza.

The third period started with the Caps lone power play of the game — against four for the Rangers — as Derick Brassard was called for interference against Alex Ovechkin. Despite three shots on goal, there was no result. As the penalty expired though, Brassard got behind an out-of-position Matt Niskanen, took a pass from Martin St. Louis and beat Holtby from point-blank, restoring the Rangers two-goal lead.

The Caps didn’t fold, getting the better chances in the third and they finally capitalized through great individual effort by their captain.

Ovechkin took a pass from Joel Ward at center ice and split a pair of Rangers’ defensemen. As Ryan McDonough was hauling Ovechkin down, the Great 8 was able to get an unbelievable wrist shot off as he was falling which eluded Lundqvist over his right shoulder to cut the deficit back to one goal.

See it yourself again. It’s the kind of individual effort that only Alex Ovechkin can bring to the ice, and simply because of familiarity Caps fans should not dismiss this goal simply as “Ovi being Ovi.” Regardless of the Caps playoff history, Ovechkin is the best pure goal scorer of this generation and this type of effort and commitment should not be taken casually.

Unfortunately, though, that was the Caps final hurrah. Lundqvist was tested several times down the stretch as the Caps tried to tie to force overtime, but was up to the task each time, even at 6-on-5 for over a minute at the end of the game.

Ultimately, the Capitals have to be happy stealing a game in the Garden and return to DC tied at a game apiece. The Caps have played much better at home thus far in the playoffs, and with a game already under their belts, they have to feel pretty good about themselves heading into Game 3 Monday night. The Caps looked pretty bad at times in both Games 1 and 2 and came out with a win and a one-goal loss so they know they can play with the Rangers, who were the class of the Eastern Conference this season.

Washington Capitals Second Round Game 1 Recap: Wardo wins Game 1 with 1.3 seconds left

JOEL WARD SCORES GAME-WINNER WITH LESS THAN TWO SECONDS LEFT

Tied at one goal apiece after losing the lead late in Game 1 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Washington Capitals were faced with overtime in Madison Square Garden. But flipping a script that has seemed to so often go against them, as time was expiring Nick Backstrom made a dicey, but ultimately clean, hit against Dan Boyle on a forecheck, Alex Ovechkin dug the puck away and found Joel Ward in front, who slipped it underneath a sprawled Henrik Lundqvist with less than two seconds remaining on the clock to win Game 1 over the second round series 2-1.

For years, it’s seemed that type of thing happened TO the Caps, not FOR them.

The Washington Capitals have met the New York Rangers eight previous times and four times in the past seven years in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including three previous meetings in the quarterfinals, in 2009, 2011 and 2013, splitting the eight series. With that history as a backdrop, the Caps once again find themselves in a best-of-seven in the second round with the Broadway Blueshirts.

In Game 1 Thursday night, the Caps took the early advantage, courtesy of their best players.

Ovechkin, Backstrom and Ward owned play much of the time they were on the ice, despite the Rangers tactics of lining up their best defensive duo against them whenever possible. And Braden Holtby was stellar once again with 31 saves, including 11 in the third period, to preserve the win.

The Caps withstood the Rangers hearty attack early in the first period, with the shots on goal at 7-3 at one point. But with 3:34 left in the frame, Dominic Moore held Jay Beagle along the wall and the Caps were awarded their first power play of the series.

Ovechkin took a cross-ice pass through the neutral zone from John Carlson on the rush and, as he’s done so many times in his career, used Dan Boyle as a screen and whipped a wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist high short-side for his third goal of this playoffs and 11th goal in 27 career playoff games against the Rangers to put the Caps up 1-0.

With 21 seconds before intermission, Dan Kreider clipped Curtis Glencross up high in the Caps’ defensive zone and the Caps went back on the power play.

The Caps resumed the power play at the start of the second, but it was short-lived when Carlson clocked Rick Nash high along the boards and was whistled for interference. The resulting four-on-four and Rangers brief power play were both uneventful.

Both teams had decent chances throughout the second period, with the Caps having the better of play, reducing their deficit in shots on goal throughout the frame. The Caps did a very solid job keeping the Rangers from entering their zone with speed and when the Rangers did finally establish the zone, the Caps did well to keep shots to the outside against Holtby, who nonetheless made several difficult saves in the frame.

Perhaps the best save of the night, however, came from Lundqvist with about five minutes left in the period. The Caps came in on a three-on-two and when the defense collapsed, Nick Backstrom let loose with a wrister from the slot, which Lundqvist snapped up with his catching glove.

The period ended with the Caps still on top, 1-0.

It stayed that way with the Caps playing more of a defensive stance until 4:39 left, as the Caps got caught pinned in their own end and at the end of a very long shift. Kevin Hayes threw one through a mess of bodies from center point that was tipped along the way by Jesper Fast past Holtby to tie the game.

The Rangers’ goal only served to set up the heroics by Ward, assisted by Backstrom and Ovechkin.

After the final horn, Rangers coach Alain Vingneault verbally assaulted the referees about the Backstrom hit which led to the game-winner, but upon video review the hit was hard, but shoulder-to-shoulder, which only looked worse because Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle had his head down trying to dig out the puck.

Game 2 is Saturday at 12:30 pm Eastern Time.

%d bloggers like this: