Photo credit: Kathy Willens
With 11:51 left in the New York Rangers season, Al Pacino came onto the massive screen at Madison Square Garden. In a video familiar to Capitals fans, a scene from Any Given Sunday played.
“The inches we need are everywhere around us,” Pacino yells in the film.
For the Rangers, the winners of the Presidents’ Trophy this year, a few inches here and there had put them on the verge being eliminated from the postseason in early May. In their last eight periods coming into Friday’s game, they had scored two goals. After every loss to the Capitals, three of them heading into game five, they insisted they were about to break through. Every night, the Rangers showered Capitals goalie Braden Holtby with pucks. Though his teammates prevented many of those shots from reaching him, most made it through towards the net. Holtby, as he has all season, stopped nearly all of them.
In a series with some of the most spectacular goals imaginable, Holtby, 25 and a restricted free agent at the end of season, has been Washington’s most remarkable player. In the regular season, Capitals coach Barry Trotz played him more than any other goalie in the league, 73 games total. Through game four of this round, he had given up just 15 goals in 10 postseason games. His 1.48 goals against average and .950 save percentage topped all goalies still playing in the postseason.
But the Rangers offense, which netted 248 goals in the regular season, never disappeared. As their head coach Alain Vigneault reiterated after every game, they were knocking on the door. In the opening three games of the series, they put 94 shots on net. They added another 35 the first 58 minutes of game five. But their chances were running into the league’s hottest goalie, a guy who had been benched for weeks on end just a year ago.
But finally, 101 seconds before New York’s season was set to expire, Chris Kreider beat Holtby on the Rangers’ 36th shot of the night, a one-timer from the near circle.
“I just didn’t see it,” Holtby told reporters after the game.
Photo credit: Frank Franklin II
At 12:40 p.m. on Saturday, Jay Beagle won the opening faceoff of game two of Metropolitan Division Final against the New York Rangers. Instead of controlling the puck, however, the Capitals allowed the Rangers to set up for a rush out their defensive zone. As the Rangers took the puck up the ice, Washington’s top forward and defensive lines jumped on the ice. Brooks Orpik didn’t do so fast enough. Jesper Fast fed the puck to Chris Kreider in front. Thirty-eight seconds into the game, Washington was down one-nil. By the end of the first period, New York had a two-goal lead. The Caps had been outshot 15-4, completely outmatched for the first 20 minutes of play.
“I think we had a great start,” defenseman Marc Staal told reporters at the team hotel on Sunday.
But instead of sitting on their lead as they did in game two, the Rangers only plan to press more on Monday.
“It’s one thing to stay patient,” Staal said. “I think it’s another thing to stay aggressive.”
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.
Photo credit: Greg Fiume
After losing in triple overtime in Game Three, Game Four was a must-win for the Washington Capitals.
Luckily, for Caps fans, Alex Ovechkin brought his sniper stick today.
In his first shift after the Verizon Center crowd erupted in their “Ovi! Ovi!” chant at the 8-minute mark, Ovechkin capitalized on a brutal Chris Kreider turnover in the Rangers’ zone. As Kreider attempted a no-look pass to the center of the ice (a no-no in every professional hockey league except for the KHL) the puck went right to Ovechkin instead, who one-timed the puck past Henrik Lundqvist’s glove.
Video is below the jump.
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
This year has been something of a breakout for Jason Chimera, with the speedy winger hitting a career-high 20 goals and becoming a key piece of the Capitals’ depth. You didn’t have to tell Henrik Lundqvist he could score — Chimera now has goals in three consecutive postseason games against the Rangers, going back to the last game of the Caps/Rangers series in 2011, and has become something of a personal nightmare for the All-Star goalie.
You can’t expect the goals to come easy against a netminder of that caliber though, and Chimera’s tally in the Caps’ 3-2 win on Monday was anything but. Following a crazypants individual effort from Matt Hendricks and an equally crazy almost-save from Lundqvist, Chimera finished off the team’s efforts to tap the goal in. We take a closer look below.
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