Sigh. (Photo credit: Kathy Willens)
This could be the pivotal game in the series. Up 2-0 Washington had the chance to all but put the Rangers away. But all it took to derail those plans, however, was one bad bounce off Karl Alzner’s shoulder.
The first period was scoreless and fairly even with Caps holding a 5-4 advantage in scoring chances. Despite not having a lead after 20 minutes of play the frame had to be considered a positive for Washington after killing off New York’s one and a half minute five-on-three power play late.
The Rangers opened the scoring at 5:30 in the second period when Erik Christensen threaded the needle, firing a sharp-angle wrister from the corner over Michal Neuvirth’s shoulder on the man-advantage. The Capitals remained down by one until Bruce Boudreau juggled the lines, putting Alex Ovechkin, Jason Arnott and Mike Knuble together. It would pay dividends just minutes later when Arnott fired a shot from the corner before Ovechkin potted it home to tie the game.
Eight minutes into the third, Vinny Prospal gave New York a 2-1 advantage, putting the rebound from
Eric Marc Staal’s blast from the point into the back of the net. But when in comes to scoring gritty goals in front of the net, no one can outdo Knuuuuuuuble, as he whacked home the loose puck after Nicklas Backstrom’s one-time rocket on the power play. You might want to stop reading now.
With just 1:39 remaining in the game Brandon Dubinsky fired shot on Neuvirth, hitting Alzner. Before Neuvirth could react, six ounces of vulcanized rubber were in the back of the net. The Czech netminder hung his head in dejection and Ovechkin lay face down on the ice. Rangers shock Caps, 3-2.
Photo credit: Rob Carr
Shutout and embarrassed by the New York Rangers. Now where have I heard that before? The Caps certainly did their best December 12 impression on Friday night, with the added twist of dropping the game in front of their home fans, who didn’t respond kindly.
“I am absolutely not happy,” said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. “I mean our fans deserve better. That’s three games in a row at home. You know, we deserved to get booed there. It’s not fun when you come home and you got the best fans in the world and you play like that.”
The first action in the contest came when Jason Chimera delivered a hard check along the boards to the Rangers’ Michael Sauer, who didn’t take well to Chimera’s rough play. After a little back and forth the two dropped the gloves with neither getting too much of an upper hand. Just under six minutes into the game the period got ugly for the Caps. It started when Mike Green and Derek Stepan went for the puck in the corner with Stepan catching Green with an elbow. The recently injured Green immediately hit the ice, clutching his head before heading to the locker room as soon as play stopped. Just seconds after Green’s injury Steve Eminger gave the Rangers the lead, as the puck knuckled past Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth. At 14:47 in the period Sauer got into the action again setting up Erik Christensen in front of Washington’s net, putting New York up by two. The Capitals would get a chance to rally when Alex Ovechkin skated down the wing, beat Ryan McDonagh, and fired a shot on Rangers ‘keeper Henrik Lundqvist as he slid down the ice on his rear. Sounds familiar, eh? This time, however, Ovi was unsuccessful.
In the second frame, things would only get worse for the Capitals. At 4:19, while on the power play, Christensen would pot his second of the night, set up by an excellent backhand pass from Ryan Callahan. The Caps in-game entertainment crew responded by playing “Unleash the Fury” much earlier than usual. But that did little to stop Washington’s poor play as later in the period Stepan would extend New York’s lead to four after a misplay by Neuvirth.
In the third, the Rangers put a five-spot on the Caps when Vinny Prospal flicked a wrist shot over Neuvirth’s shoulder. But that wouldn’t be it. Brian Boyle would extend the lead once again in the waining moments of the game. Are you still reading? Rangers rout Caps, 6-0.
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