Is Arnott happy or angry he scored? (Photo credit: AP)
Thanks to tallies authored by the two Alexes Wednesday, the Capitals opened up their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Rangers with a 2-1 overtime victory. Who would pot the goals in game two? Um, obviously the Jasons.
After a scoreless first period, Brooks Laich decided to hold a forechecking clinic at 2:11 of the second period, taking on towering Rangers’ defenseman Matt Gilroy. After being knocked to his keister not once — but twice — Laich pushed the biscuit with only one hand on his stick to Marcus Johansson. Mojo — acutely aware of all of his surroundings — immediately sent a tape-to-tape pass to Jason Chimera, who roofed the puck high and glove side past a stunned Henrik Lundqvist.
1:57 later while on the power play, Jason Arnott would win a face-off. Alex Semin then passed it back to Alex Ovechkin at the point. Ovechkin, when pressured by a Ranger penalty-killer, skated across the blue line with the puck and fed Mike Green who was rotating down to the slot. Green then wound up to the sky with all his fury and released a slap shot. Gilroy blocked the attempt both with his skate and stick. Unfortunately for him, the muffed puck then deflected across the ice directly onto the blade of Jason Arnott’s twig, who was skating towards the net already looking for a rebound. As Lundqvist panicked and made a quick move to block the right corner of the net, Arnott made a veteran move and waited as he fell down and then shot the puck past. ANGRY SCOAR FACE.
That would be all she wrote. Michal Neuvirth would get his first career playoff shutout. Caps beat Rangers, 2-0!
- History is now heavily on the Capitals side. Despite being an original six team, the New York Rangers have never come back from a 2-0 deficit when they’ve started a series on the road. Though I feel dirty typing that considering last year.
- John “STOP BOXIN’ ME IN, BROOKSY” Tortorella must have been acutely aware of this fact before the game. Torts dressed class-of-the-league Sean Avery and if you watched closely, you could even pick up on his game plan: hit anything that moves.
- Speaking of Sean Avery, if you looked at the scoresheet, you would have thought he was invisible. In 10:22 of ice time, he had three shots and one hit. However, in the third period, he was the only person anyone was talking about either on twitter or on-air. Avery, who resembles a rabid woodland creature when angry, went into full-on pest-mode, hitting guys after the whistle and chirping at anyone who would listen to try and draw a penalty. He even got a little National Geographic with Alex Semin. For the most part, the Capitals showed restraint. Championship winning teams are shrewd and don’t take retaliatory penalties. This must continue.
- Bruce Boudreau is quietly giving the Capitals a huge advantage as the series wears on. Only three players were on the ice for over 20 minutes tonight. That is insane. When you get everyone involved like this, the entire team should be at the top of their game. Vancouver routinely throws out four lines, and they ran over everyone this year while capturing the league’s Presidents Trophy.
- The Caps out-chanced the Rangers 11-10. Sure Michal Neuvirth got the shutout, but he has seen more chances against in one period in nine other games this year. We should keep our optimism tempered with Neuvy, but you can tell that he is growing more confident by the day, especially when reviewing the mettle that he exhibits on saves like these.
- In my heart of hearts, Mike Green was the player of the game. His slapshot early in the second period stung Lundqvist badly, forcing the King to play passively and deep in his net. Goals immediately came thereafter. Now let’s all hope he’s okay after taking another elbow to the head, this time by Brandon Dubinsky. Grr.
- Tonight we witnessed an incredible game from Jason Chimera. Three of his five shots were scoring chances, plus the goal scored. Chimmer was also credited with five hits in 11:01 of ice time. If the Capitals are going to get production like this from their third and fourth lines, they will be scary.
- Alex Ovechkin only had two shots, and missed the net completely five times. However, three of those seven shots were scoring chances. That’s a good ratio.
- With 12:38 to go in the third period, there was a mad scramble in front of the Capitals net. Neuvy ended up out of the crease, an empty net yawing. John Erskine ended up blocking a shot with his legs to save the Capitals two goal lead. I cannot be understated. Without that block, the game could have been broken wide open by the Rangers. Well done picking up the slack for your teammate, Johnny.
- Mike Knuble has no business taking a shot from the parking lot or 178 feet away from the opponent’s goal. Almost two thirds of his career tallies have been scored within 15 feet of the net. Let’s hope that was an aberration.
- In the second period, the Rangers had no scoring chances. It was the first time all season they were held to zero in one period. Good stuff.
Brooks Laich summed it up well after the game. “I thought we did a good job in our defensive zone,” he said. “I think that’s going to be the key for us in the series. We didn’t give them a lot of chances in the slot tonight.” It’s true. Despite controlling two of the three periods of play, the Rangers couldn’t penetrate a group that we can now say has truly learned how to play stifling, defensive hockey.
The Rangers will now be in full-out desperation mode headed into Sunday’s matinee at Madison Square Garden. It will be important for the Capitals to ride out the first ten minutes of the game – which will surely be loud and intense – and try to take control from there. But while we have a day, let’s all smile and enjoy this. Winning sure is fun.
Two down, 14 to go.