Wednesday night, the Caps and Rangers played another brilliant hockey game, which came in a series full of brilliant hockey games. Every game in the series was close, so it was appropriate that game seven would be decided in overtime.
10:18 into the extra period, there was a faceoff in the Rangers zone. Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Emrick decided that this was his moment to say something poignant– something to capture the moment– the tension of the game, the drama of the sport, and the anxiety of its nervous fans.
As the second period of Wednesday night’s game seven against the New York Rangers ended, Eric Fehr remained on the ice as his teammates walked to the Capitals locker room through a tunnel at the corner of the rink. He kicked his legs and circled Washington’s offensive zone for a minute before joining them. Playing his first game since April 19, Fehr had taken six shifts through two frames, a member of a fourth line that hardly received ice time.
As the game wore on and headed to overtime, head coach Barry Trotz began utilizing Fehr and Brooks Laich more. Fehr was on the ice when the Capitals iced the puck in the middle of a line change past the midway point of the fourth period. Fehr, who missed almost a month with an upper-body injury, would be required to take just his fourth faceoff of the night. He won it, but the Caps sent the puck to the other end on a failed clearing attempt. Seven seconds after beating Derek Stepan on the draw, Fehr faced Stepan again. The pair tied each other up, but Rangers forward Jesper Fast poked the puck to the point. The Capitals’ season was over a few seconds later.
After the Capitals nearly came back from a 4-1 deficit in game six, Alex Ovechkin assured the media the Capitals would go to New York and win game seven. They did not, but Ovi did everything he could. He scored Washington’s only goal, throwing a game-high six shots on net. In the end, it wasn’t enough. After the game, Ovechkin spoke to reporters in a hushed tone. The game clock above his locker was frozen on the moment the Capitals’ season ended.
Once again, the Washington Capitals have been unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs in a gut-wrenching game seven after relinquishing a lead. It hurts. The coming days and weeks and months will be filled with chatter about what it all means and who’s a choker and who needs to step up and who’s a leader and other nonsense like that. For now, let’s just bask in the misery.
Braden Holtby lay on his back, looking straight up at the ironic Madison Square Garden ceiling. In 73 regular season games, Holtby anchored the Washington Capitals. He did the same for 13 postseason games, offering up one of the best playoff performances by a goaltender ever. In Wednesday’s game seven, he made 37 saves. But goalies — even great ones like Holtby — can’t stop everything. There was nothing he could do to prevent Derek Stepan‘s overtime winner, the goal that ended the Capitals season. After the game, Holtby, still clearly shaken, spoke to the media.
The Washington Capitals have been eliminated by the New York Rangers.
There was a moment around lunchtime when I had actually convinced myself game seven between the Capitals and Rangers might not be a low-scoring, one-goal game decided in overtime. Maybe you thought the same. If so, you’re a dummy too. This was always going to be tight. It was always going to be a goalie duel. This was always going to be excruciating. The only thing we didn’t know wasthat this was the end.
Alex Ovechkin scored in the first period, fighting to win a faceoff then driving to the net as Marcus Johansson dealt him the puck. A glut of penalties sucked up the second period, capped off by Kevin Hayes’ goal to knot the game heading into the third period. The Rangers pushed late, but some great work by the Caps forward depth and Braden Holtby held on for overtime, which is when Josh Groban said
And this is why they signed him. Late in the third period, Brooks Orpik started trying to rail people at the blue line. Basically it’d go like this: a Cap forward would angle a Rangers player near the boards. Then Batya would finish them.
First, he tried to destroy former MVP Martin St. Louis and just barely missed.
The Caps’ power play is aggressive. They use only one defenseman on the ice, which makes them dangerous but also susceptible to shorthanded chances. A few minutes after Alex Ovechkin scored, the Caps went to a power play, but instead of scoring, they let Rick Nash race in all alone on Braden Holtby.