Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
After the grueling march of disappointment that was Game Three, we expected a rallying effort from the Caps. But we weren’t naive enough to expect a different kind of game. We know by now that the Capitals are capable of playing only one-goal games. What we didn’t know is that they could get goals out of Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Mike Green in the same game. It was like 2009 up in here.
Here’s how it went: After a battle in the corner, Alex Ovechkin ripped a one-timer that beat Lundqvist’s glove for the game’s first goal.
Artem Anisimov tied it up early in the second by beating Braden Holtby, who was left helpless when Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin couldn’t block a weirdly bouncing pass. Nick Backstrom reasserted the lead by tenderizing Artem Anisimov and then putting Chimera’s pass in the net. Artem Anisimov won an icing race against Jeff Schultz and set up Marian Gaborik for another tying goal through Holtby’s five-hole.
Mike Green put the Caps up with a powerplay goal late in the third. It was the game-winner. Caps beat Rangers 3-2.
In the second period, Alex Ovechkin delivered a hit on Dan Girardi that earned him a minor penalty for charging. Ovechkin’s skates clearly left the ice before the hit, raising the specter of suspension. NBC’s Mike Milbury says the hit was unacceptable and deserves a fine or suspension, Keith Jones says it was a defensive move and the charging penalty will suffice. Here’s the hit:
Apparently I’m so tainted by my biases that my opinion doesn’t matter, but I’m on Keith’s team. It looked shoulder-to-shoulder to me, although we’ve seen how Shanahan considers any kind of airborne hit equivalent to the wild west. If Ovi did indeed connect with Girardi’s noggin, the “principal point of contact” line of reasoning is irrelevant. Ovechkin is responsible for what happens when he launches himself off the ice.
Regardless, we’d really appreciate it if Ovechkin gets this out of his game. Not the dirty hits; I mean hitting in general. Uncle Ted doesn’t pay nine gazillion dollars a year so Alex can hit dudes, he does it so Alex can SCOAR MOAR GOALS. Ted can probably find $600k for some mook to hit guys, but goals are so much more precious.
- Alex Ovechkin‘s goal was a happy accident made possible by an uncharacteristically rookie goof from stud Chris Kreider and a bad glove save by Henrik Lundqvist. Let’s see more of those mistakes please, kthxbye!
- Jeff Schultz is gonna get a lot of flack for losing the icing race (although icing had already been waved off) against Artem Anisimov, but the blame should be shared with the team’s Escape Goat, Dennis Wideman. Wideman allowed Anisimov to get past him, and sent the puck behind the net off his glove– nullifying the icing. But let’s not forget that Jeff Schultz led the Caps in blocks with 9 (6 more than any Caps player, 8 more than any Ranger) and looked tough throughout the game. With some better communication, this pivotal play would’ve been no big deal at all. So lay off the Giraffe. He’s still better at hockey than you are.
- We saw one of our all-time favorite traditions today: the washed-out Mike Knuble playoff goal! Along with the puck, Kanoobs was shoved into Lundqvist by Stu Bickel. The puck must’ve gone in, but there was no evidence. Besides, the officials already waved the goal off. How many times have we seen this? I can recall three Knuble goals– all potential game-winners– that have been nullified in the playoffs since 2009. That’s Mike’s style of play and a big part of why we love him, so I guess we’ve gotten used to this. The NHL has made us cynical.
- Players sort of underestimate Nick Backstrom, don’t they? He’s got the reputation of a effete Swede, so when he decked Artem Anisimov to open up ice for a big goal, everyone was shocked. Anisimov didn’t see it coming: he was skating in to give 19 a tough hit to the shoulder, but Backstrom anticipated and delivered a pre-emptive response. I’d love to see more of that kind of grit from Backstrom. He’s already a three-dimensional player with upsides in every game situation, but being a more physical player might earn him a little space to make the magic we know he can.
- Alex Semin was the only Young Gun not to score today, but it doesn’t matter. Sasha was one of the best forwards on the ice (plus-7 Fenwick, 4 shots)– and without any of those wacky stick penalties that are so often concomitant.
Series record: Capitals 2, Rangers 2
Knotted. Like each game so far, this series is tight. The tension is high. But like your boy RG3 says: no pressure, no diamonds.
How great was it– not just to win– but to do so on the backs of the stars? Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Mike Green were your goal scorers today. Each of those players had a tough season: Ovi with his suspension and media scrutiny, Backstrom with a concussion, Mike Green with a defective body that is apparently no longer covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.
But here they were, playing great hockey when it mattered most.
The Capitals and Rangers are tied. We’re looking at a best-of-three series now– two in New York, one more at home. If the Caps can win, they’ll advance to the Conference Finals for the first time in more than a decade.
They can do it.
Now: go celebrate. It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. It’s Cinco de Mayo. It’s Free Comic Book Day. Go have a party.
Here: I’ll get you started with this dance remix of Bailamos.