Back to Even: Rangers beat Caps 4-3

Scott Levy

Photo credit: Scott Levy

I don’t know how you guys are coping, but I am doing poorly. A playoff series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers seems constitutionally incapable of being stress-free. Game three’s penalty problems continued in game four, and the Caps struggled with special teams and other complex ideas such as shooting and passing. The Rangers seemed to be able to summon a lead on a whim, leaving the Caps to mount a comeback pretty much throughout.

Despite the Caps getting better (and more desperate) as the clock wound down, the Rangers won another game on home ice.

Rangers beat Caps 4-3. Series is tied 2-2.

  • Braden Holtby dun goofed. Handling a loose puck, Holtby eyed a saucer pass to neutral, but instead found Pyatt Pree‘s stick hanging in the air. Brad Richards got on the puck and scored on a mostly vacant net to make it 1-0. Holtby’s been both lauded and criticized for his eagerness to play the puck, and he’s been burned more than once for it. This was the worst of al. This was worse than what Jonathan Quick did last week. Because it happened to real people.
  • The Capitals’ first period power plays were rancid. The Caps allowed three shorthanded chances, the third one leading to total troublefunk in front of Braden Holtby. Martin Erat and Alex Ovechkin closed in on Derek Stepan– Erat reaching from behind while Ovi was picking up steam. The three collided in a tangle, with Erat landing wrist-first in the net and Ovechkin skating back to the bench before getting beckoned to the box. A hooking penalty for Erat was reasonable, but — inconceivably– Ovechkin was given the old wild-card penalty: charging. Pierre McGuire, who has yet to master the name Oleksy, proclaimed it an obvious headshot. It was not, but the Caps still had to kill a 5 on 3– which they did excellently, but the penalty was more fuel to the Gee willikers! These refs are atrocious! fire. Erat did not return to the game, replaced on the second line by the similarly awesome Eric Fehr.
  • From the circle, Carl Hagelin got a knuckley puck past Holtby’s glove side halfway through the game– at which the Caps had just 5 shots on goal during even strength. D’oh.
  • But thank goodness for Joel Ward and Mathieu Perreault, who teamed up to put the Caps on the board. Ward had some pretty moves to put the puck on net, and then Perreault crashed it like a tiny French Canadian Knuble.
  • The Caps tied it before the end of the second period with a nifty Troy Brouwer backhand while the Rangers got a bit indolent on the breakout. Brouwer was due, and it was greatly appreciated.
  • After the Caps improved their possession (as measured by even-strength shot attempts) through the last three games, the Rangers stole it back decisively on Wednesday. Even with a man-up, the Caps were unable to generate offense as the Rangers refused to take the bait of Washington’s fancy passes. The Caps were thus kept on the outskirts and generated no real power play chances.
  • A Charmin soft interference penalty on Jason Chimera at the buzzer of the second period led to a Girardi PPG in the first minute of the third, putting Caps back in their one-goal hole, but only temporarily as Marcus Johansson’s inability to clear the zone gave NYR’s Stepan space and time to make it 4-2.
  • Ovi was pretty much nullified. Most of his (scarce) shot attempts were blocked, and he — and this is weird– seemed to get hit more than he hit others. I’m not really used to that, but hats off to the Rags for sticking it to him. I’m not sure they’ll be able to do that back in Verizon Center, where the Caps will get last line change.
  • Karl Alzner kept it close with an outside slapper (that have got a piece of Perry) with just a bit over 12 minutes left. Because apparently this series was too relaxing for some people.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

Aaaalright, the Caps may have gotten a bit off their game there.

You can chalk some up to the refs, but we can’t pretend like this game was stolen from the Caps. Mysterious decisions on defense and some bad moves on the breakout sort of doomed the effort. The Rangers won the physical game and seemed to have figured out the Oates’ power play. That might make the rest of this series difficult. Or at least interesting. It’s as if the gauntlet has been thrown.

That doesn’t mean it’s undoable. The Rangers have no advantage whatsoever. All they have done is restored the series to neutral. The Caps own on home ice, and they’ll have to flaunt it to win this series.

Friday. Be ready.

Okay not the psyche-up song I wanted. I’ll try again later.

  • JenniferH

    Well, [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted]] [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted]. And one more for the road! [EXPLETIVE DELETED!]

    Erm, win it in 6?! Please!

    Grr, Holtby, woulda been tied not for his bone-headed move in the first with a shot in OT, but noooo! And Ovi was just kept in check and grrrrr!!! I just… commence hair-pulling now!

  • buck

    Ovechkin barely looked like he was trying this game. The only thing he was good for was missing the net and turning the puck over. Step the hell up and lead this team

  • Dman

    Ward, Perry, Chimera and Fehr were great. Everyone else, not so much.

  • Andy

    I think this was a playoff ending loss. With the loss of Erat, the poor play for the second consecutive night in an opponents place. The ghost like super stars. The soft plays by holts.

    No way this team can go the distance if they put together this kind of an effort. They may be able to steal a series from the Rags with two more home games, but no shot at a cup like this. Depressing

    That being said I consider this season a positive for making it to the playoffs. Hopefully next year we can be healthy and ready for a real run.

  • http://twitter.com/dylanwheatley83 dylan wheatley

    caps gotta start crashing the net. lundquist and the defense in front of him are too good for the usual caps cute shit. they need greasy goals like alzner/matty’s. save the slick passing and set plays for the bruins.

  • hopeless

    These refs suck big fat donkey d*cks. And I still don’t like MOJO no matter how much you guys fall in love with him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/root.matt Matt Root

    Not like hockey injuries are ever known to the public if “playable” through, especially in the playoffs, but is Ovi looking banged up to anyone else?

  • Ash

    He absorbed a big hip check last game. I was discussing with someone whether or not that dinged him up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Funployee Greg Girard

    That pass to the point that both D-men just… looked at with boredom as it slid to no one… with Holtby pulled… made me sick. I am surprised I didn’t throw something through the TV. Frustration doesn’t even begin to describe it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/smed.baildog Smed Baildog

    The refs were incomprensibly horrid … but the Caps were far worse.
    The fact they only lost by 1 is equally amazing.

  • Ash

    Eh. Or it could be a rude wake up call to the Caps, and put a fire under their ass. Either way, there are at least two more games before this series ends– not time to throw in the towel yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eddiepasa Eddie Pasa

    Ovie NEEDS to stop with the no-look drop passes. They’ve been picked off every time and have led to bad things. To quote the Red Goriya in “The Legend of Zelda”:
    GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE…

  • Misha

    Most poorly and one sided officiating I’ve ever seen in many years of watching the game. Funny, I didn’t see devorski on the ice..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005713165 Pat Magee

    Give neuvy a shot. Just to make some more controversy!

  • http://twitter.com/_Queless Gerry Q

    I’m just amazed Oates and the Caps can restrain from making a comment about the refs in these interviews…

  • yv

    Old $hitty Caps showed up in NY. Power play was again powerless and extremely stupefying, while power kill was again suicidal. You can’t make heroes in this team. Negativity just overwhelming you. I don’t know what Holtby visualizing but maybe he should stop doing this. He averaging of giving, at-least, one soft, unearned by NYR goals, and in playoffs when one goal decide everything this is totally inexcusable. If, indeed, the rights for last shift affecting so much how Ovi and first line playing, then Caps are in big trouble. Fortunately, they will have game 7 at home, but then it would be Bruins who will have home ice. Now best of 3. Hopefully, AO will not give these guys day-off, they didn’t deserve it.

  • http://twitter.com/annielockyer Annie Lockyer

    I’m going to dislocate my shoulder reaching for a silver lining here, but I saw a game that could have been a lot worse. Caps go down 2-0 and then had, like what, 10 minutes on the PK in the 2nd? Rangers should have put the game away right then, but they didn’t. They couldn’t. Caps moved mountains in the 2nd; they were handed a turd sandwich by the refs and suffered 1st period flukey goals and at that point I think a lot of teams would have been done. I think the Caps of 3 months ago would have been done, losing this game 5-1 with a garbage goal in the 3rd. These Caps playing tonight do not go quietly into the night when things don’t go their way. They kill penalties they didn’t deserve and fight and claw their way back into games they have no business keeping close. I saw the sort of next level extra-ordinary mentally toughness that (swear word) commenters are always convinced the Capitals are lacking. I saw the Caps nearly steal a couple of road games they didn’t deserve on cruddy ice via sheer force of will.

    I still think we’re in this. It’s going to be ugly, but I think Caps win the series.

  • Alex

    The Caps would still have home ice over the Bruins, We are the 3 seed and they are the 4 seed. Thus, VERIZON CENTER would host a potential Game 7 of that series, assuming that’s what happens.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    This is why you play a best of 7 series. I’m not gonna crap on everyone’s optimism and say it’s over, but I’ve seen series like this go very bad for us for years and years. Thought we played a great game 1, but really have been unimpressed the last 3. Blame the refs all you want, if we cycled the puck better on our PP and didn’t make too many risky plays, that wouldn’t happen. Rags excel on the forecheck, and they will make you pay for a mistake. I just don’t expect much until the Caps prove they can close out a series while ahead. Outside of round 1 in 2011, we haven’t seen that since 98. I will happily eat crow if we win this series.

  • JessHughes

    Totally unimpressed with Backstrom and MoJo – are they some kind of Swedish double agents, sent to help Lundquist’s team look good? I also wonder if Ovi is dinged – definitely looks a step slow and not just because of Girardi. Rest of team needs to do what Fehr, Ward, and Perrault did. Tom “Ten Train” Wilson coming from Hershey?

  • yv

    Oh, yes. I have so much adapted that Bruins is #2 that forgot about Habs. It is a little better. But Bruins probably will rest after game 5. And as history showing team that plays two firsts 7-game series never wins SC.

  • http://twitter.com/rmobrien21 R.O’B.

    I’m calling a fractured wrist for Erat so he is done for the playoffs, and Peter I hope you were drunker than usually writing this because that’s the only way I’d have survived trying to recap that implosion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=12723329 Ryan Garvey

    2 things I’m wondering about:
    1. On the Rangers 1st goal was Holtby’s chip not knocked down with a high stick?
    2. Where was the call when, right after Alzner scored, Chimera got hit down to the ice?
    Not blaming the refs, just wondering if anyone else saw these things.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Drunker than usual?!

    Haha. I never drink on schoolnights! (Sun-Thu)

    But thanks for writing– and I agree re: Erat

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I think the knock-down could’ve been a played with a high stick call, but it’s not reviewable, so shrug.

    And yeah on Chimera.

  • OlietheGoalie

    One day there will be a Caps playoff series that is stress free.

    Maybe.

    This is not that series.

    Everyone have their Maalox ready?

  • serpent

    So right! They have to quit playing hot potato and just shoot the damned thing . Watch Knuble videos! Anything but the lazy ass power play crap they’ve been serving up. Henrik doesn’t like being peppered with shots so just keep wacking at it, for pete’s sake!

  • doeshin

    wow… the weather outside is gloomy, but it’s all sunshine and cheers here. I am on this bandwagon. WHY NOT US? break this playoff futility streak. NOW!!! UNbreak the Russian Machine. cause it seems to be stuck in mud. fine tune that bad boy and whoop up on the blue boys. GO CAPS!!!

    besides. what does gloom and doom and complaining do. all we can do is continue to cheer…

  • OlietheGoalie

    Bad, Holtby. STAY IN YOUR NET.

  • Lisa Massey

    Stupid play by Holts, very unHoltby like. Anyone else see a problem with Hillen on defensive coverage? That fourth goal was on him. Hopefully Ovi shows up for Friday’s game.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I’d put that on Johansson.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidr.wahnish David R Wahnish

    I support Oatsie and everything he has done with this team so far.

    That said, I can’t help feeling that maybe Bruce Boudreau had the right Idea:

    Don’t f****n’ worry about f****n’ anything but f****n’ scoring f****n’ goals…a f****n’ LOT of f****n’ goals. We need to f****n’ score so many f****n’ goals that f****n’ nothing the f****n’ zebras can f****n’ do to us will f****n’make any f****n’ difference!!!

    C’mon guys: win Friday by any means necessary and then slam the door on these guys when it goes back to MSG…because I f****n’ hate that stupid f****n’ NY goalsong!!! Cup or no, I’ll die a happy man if I never have to hear that again!

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidr.wahnish David R Wahnish

    I hope you’re right Annie. I really, really do….Because just one of those things killed of my crew in less than 24 hours–Kane…Kane said he saw thousands of eggs on that ship…thousands!…and if the colonists have found that ship, there’s no telling how many of them might have been exposed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidr.wahnish David R Wahnish

    …and didn’t McCreary McBleary retire last year?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    dear god

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidr.wahnish David R Wahnish

    hahaaa…Gotcha!

  • http://twitter.com/annielockyer Annie Lockyer

    I had to google that reference because I’m a wimp and the scariest movie I’ve ever seen is Ghostbusters. Still not totally sure what you mean – our odds are long?

  • http://twitter.com/annielockyer Annie Lockyer

    Welcome to the Unflinching Optimists Society. We get jackets.