This guy. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
The Washington Capitals went back to the dimly lit den of sin called Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Against the New York Rangers, with whom they were tied 2-2 in the series, the Caps struggled to muster the offense that had characterized their last couple games, but they did have a little traction on the power play. Unfortunately for them, however, the Rangers had more.
Anton Stralman got a softy on Braden Holtby in a dominant first period for the Rangers. The tide turned in the second period, and Brooks Laich evened it up with a sneaky snap after an offensive-zone faceoff.
John Carlson earned the lead with a barrage of slap shots on a third-period power play. But in the final 20 seconds of the game, Joel Ward’s high-sticking penalty gave Brad Richards the tying goal. With 7 freaking seconds left.
So we went to overtime once more, but it didn’t last long. Marc Staal ended it on the power play. Rangers beat Caps 3-2 (OT).
Series record: Rangers 3, Capitals 2
I’ve never seen anything like that. The Capitals had a strangehold on the Rangers with precious seconds left in the game. One bad penalty and a worse penalty kill lost them the lead and the game in the space of two minutes.
Explosive decompression. The air got sucked out of the Capitals in the blink of an eye. The guys have to feel like they got the wind knocked out of them right now. What should have been a cakewalk to the conference finals is now something much different.
There’s a shadow hanging over Wednesday’s game six. We knew it would be an elimination game, but we didn’t think it would be for our guys.
How are they going to react to this loss? To have the victory on the tip of their sticks only to see it snatched in a blink– it’s gotta be humbling for them. Will Braden Holtby withstand the anguish? Will Alex Ovechkin return to prominence? Will Jason Chimera regain his step?
Shake it off. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played. See you Wednesday night.
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