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.
For the second time in as many rounds, the Washington Capitals’ season comes down to one game. Tied 3 games to 3 with the New York Rangers, the Caps must win to advance to the conference final for the first time since season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Buffy had to kill Angel to stop Acathla from swallowing the Earth. If the Caps lose, it’ll probably feel about the same as when Buffy had to kill Angel to stop Acathla from swallowing the Earth.
Your boy Chris Gordon is in The New York Times again, where they call it “Game 7″ instead of “game seven.” This time, Chris writes about the would-be hero of Game 6 (see?), Joel Ward. Ward scored one goal and assisted on two more in Washington’s 4-3 loss to New York. He’s a big-game player, and games get no bigger than the one tonight. Read all about it.