For about an hour on Friday night, Curtis Glencrosswas a playoff hero. His breakaway goal with 10:54 left in the third period looked like it was going to send the Capitals to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time in 17 years.
The Rangers, however, tied the game late. In overtime, Glencross attempted a cross-ice pass to spring Brooks Laich. It was a bad one. The trade deadline acquisition stopped and flipped the puck lazily into the hands of Rangers forward Jesper Fast. Within a few seconds, the game was over. Glencross fell to his knees as the Rangers celebrated their comeback victory.
Speaking to the media after the game, Glencross was shellshocked — and perhaps headed for a benching. But instead, he will play tonight, skating once more with Laich and Tom Wilson on the fourth line as the Caps look to close out the series in game six at Verizon Center.
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.
Tom Wilson just made the biggest play of his young career.
After Henrik Lundqvist made a beautiful pass off the glass to a forward Carl Hagelin, the Rangers skated into the Caps zone with speed on a two-on-two break. Hagelin dished the puck to a trailing Kevin Klein. And that’s when Willy Baby came out of nowhere.
Wilson poke-checked the puck, fell over, slid into another Ranger, and slammed into the end boards. Matt Niskanen got the loose puck passed it to Curtis Glencross alone at the red line.
Former Flames forward Curtis Glencross is figuratively on fire right now. (I stole this from Katie Brown.) He just scored again and I think I know what’s fueling him: delicious, delicious Roy Rogers.
In his first five games with the Caps, Glencross has scored three times – all in thefirst period. (He also has points in all five games with Washington.) The Capitals have a promotion with Roy Rogers: if they score in the first period, you get a free sandwich.
The Capitals’ second line has struggled with scoring this season, but the times, they are a changing.’ New trade-deadline-addition Curtis Glencross has just scored his second goal as a Capital. It came after a beautiful pass from Mike Green and Mike Green’s magical, discontinued Easton Stealth Stick.
I’ve written about the Caps zone entries on the power play twice this season (here and here). One of the main takeaways from those stories is that Marcus Johansson is crucial to the Caps PP zone entries. Often, he’ll receive a pass in neutral from Nick Backstrom and then carry the puck into the zone along the wall.
Curtis Glencross just nabbed his first point as a Washington Capital, a power-play goal against the Minnesota Wild. Glencross reeled in a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and beat Devan Dubnyk top-shelf, which is where mama hides the cookies.
With just a few days left before a trade deadline, managers around the NHL are comparing their teams to the rest of the league and looking for the pieces needed for a playoff run. With the new playoff format, it’s especially important to overmatch the division rivals you are likely to face early in the postseason.
The Caps, despite sitting just fourth in the Metropolitan division, keep up with the teams above them in most statistical categories. But there is one area in which they are struggling: the second line.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman released his latest 30 Thoughts article this morning. There are two big nuggets of news. First, he believes Mike Green will be staying in DC for the rest of the year, which corroborates recent quotes from Brian MacLellan and Barry Trotz. He also believes the team will try to add a veteran defenseman and a winger to play with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.