Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Four hours and 34 minutes, 222 attempted shots, and a 2-1 lead in the series for the New York Rangers. Those are some numbers from Wednesday/Thursday’s triathlon triple overtime Game 3, which ended with a Marian Gaborik wrist shot after over 102 minutes of play.
“Probably half the players on the ice have blood on their jerseys by the end of it,” Brooks Laich said after the game.
It was a battle all the way to the end. Both teams had numerous chances to put it away in the overtime periods, hitting posts and missing pointblank.
“When you get into that many hours of playing it becomes a mental game,” said Rangers coach John Tortorella. “Just not giving in. That’s the key, just don’t give in.”
“The impact is that we’re up a game,” he added. “They have to win three, we have to win two.”
The game was the third longest the Caps have played all-time (and the longest at Verizon Center) and the lengthiest one New York has played since 1939. The Rangers played much of the game with five defensemen after Stu Bickel was benched in the second period, causing Ryan McDonagh to skate a mind blowing and leg numbing 53:17. And Caps fans shouldn’t be worried about Alex Ovechkin’s ice time in this one, as the captain registered 35:14.
“It’s really tough,” Karl Alzner said. “Your mind starts to go a little bit. You take a stride off, a step off and the guys get a chance.”
“The team that wins is not always the one that has the most energy but [the one] that’s still the most mentally sharp — most cases that’s true,” he continued, echoing Tortorella.
For the Caps, it’s a deflating loss. To play so long and come up with nothing is obviously tough. But in the Washington’s locker room after the game, the players projected a largely positive, forward-looking aura. It ended in defeat, but the Caps went toe-to-toe with the number one seed in the East for the length of almost two games after splitting the matches in New York. And for a team (perhaps refreshingly) with a shadow of the postseason expectations of pervious years, they did also just finishing knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“We weren’t able to get the goal, but it’s no reason to hang your head or pout,” Laich said. “We were right there. We got to rebound. We get a couple days of rest, a practice and come back for Game 4.”
Karl Alzner seemed equally upbeat as he spoke outside his stall in the early hours of Thursday morning.
“We’ve lost in overtime in the playoffs already and we’ve found a way to bounce back, he said. “I think we’re a lot mentally tougher team then we have been in the past.”
The Caps and Rangers are back at it noontime Saturday. Let’s try to keep this one under four hours. We have the Derby to watch afterwards.