Photo via: Bruce Arthur

The Rangers have been advertising for Eastern Conference Finals tickets since before Game Five, but apparently that just wasn’t a big enough jinx for New Yorkers, they wanted to see if they could top it.

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Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

Of the 12 playoff games the Capitals have been a part of so far, 11 were won by the team scoring the first goal. Needless to say, with the Caps’ back against the wall in an elimination game tonight, that first goal became pretty important. We didn’t have to wait long.

Jason Chimera drew a penalty within the first minute of play, and Alex Ovechkin scored on a beautiful PP sequence at exactly 88 seconds into the first period. He does have a flair for the dramatic.

Video is below the jump.

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Game Six: This Means Ward!


Photo credit: John Tlumacki

The Capitals are back in Washington with a chance to keep their season alive. It didn’t have to be that way. With half a minute left to protect their lead in Game Five, Joel Ward high-sticked Carl Hagelin. The ensuing Rangers powerplay cost the Capitals the lead and the win– and what would have been a veritable chokehold on the series.

After he bested the Bruins in the quarterfinal round, Ward was the target of some vile and feckless trash from Boston fans. After his double-minor penalty led to Monday’s loss, that same pernicious evil erupted from Caps fans as well.

Here are Three True Things:

  1. Joel Ward is not at fault for the team’s loss.
  2. This hate is as rare as it is unacceptable.
  3. Joel Ward is a great hockey player and a great addition to the ’11-’12 Washington Capitals.

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The biggest jinx since the Oil Painting. (Photo credit: Ted Starkey)

On Monday– many, many hours before the Capitals and Rangers took the ice for Game Five– the New York Rangers sent out an email encouraging its fans to buy tickets for the Eastern Conference Finals. But they left out one tiny little detail: they haven’t made the finals yet.

While we understand the need to sell tickets, this overdone graphic — which shows half the team doing a stick salute in Narnia or something, is pompous and ludicrous. The New York Rangers have lost their last two playoff series against the Capitals. You’d think they’d know better.

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This guy. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

The Washington Capitals went back to the dimly lit den of sin called Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Against the New York Rangers, with whom they were tied 2-2 in the series, the Caps struggled to muster the offense that had characterized their last couple games, but they did have a little traction on the power play. Unfortunately for them, however, the Rangers had more.

Anton Stralman got a softy on Braden Holtby in a dominant first period for the Rangers. The tide turned in the second period, and Brooks Laich evened it up with a sneaky snap after an offensive-zone faceoff.

John Carlson earned the lead with a barrage of slap shots on a third-period power play. But in the final 20 seconds of the game, Joel Ward’s high-sticking penalty gave Brad Richards the tying goal. With 7 freaking seconds left.

So we went to overtime once more, but it didn’t last long. Marc Staal ended it on the power play.  Rangers beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

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New York and the Rangers: Rotten Apple


Photo credit: Movie Vault

Editor’s note: The playoff series gives Caps fans a chance to learn all about our stupid rivals and the exotic (i.e., terrible) places they come from. For the second of their Stanley Cup travelogue series, the PuckBuddys offer “How To Spot A Rangers Fan” and helpfully explain why a trip to Manhattan is only slightly worse than a colonoscopy. Follow @PuckBuddys.

Sometimes literary fiction can teach us something great and truthy. I’m thinking here about timeless classics like “Escape from New York,” “The Stand”, or “I Am Legend” (Will Smith version, duh). In these worlds, Manhattan’s streets are littered with drooling ghouls, shuffling corpses and brainless zombies, with a few rapists tossed in for good measure. The entire island is alternately either a prison or a graveyard, both equally wretched, and always there’s one or two smart people trying desperately to flee, usually to Washington.

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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.

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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.

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16 years ago when I was in middle school, I suffered through the second longest Capitals game in franchise history. The Caps were playing the Penguins in the 1996 playoffs and boy did I hate the Pens. Of course, you know the story. Petr Nedved ended the game in quadruple overtime with a harmless wrist shot from the sideboards past Olie Kolzig. The game ended around 2 AM and I cried all night. The next day, depressed and without any sleep, I failed both an English and a math quiz.

Well, apparently I’m not the only one that overtime playoff hockey does this to.

On Wednesday night, Hockey Night in Canada showed a montage at the end of the game showing Caps General Manger George McPhee freaking out during sudden death overtime. The normally poker-faced McPhee looks like the most uncomfortable man in the arena, standing up, sitting down, twisting and turning with the action as if he could steer the players. As the CBC announcer so beautifully states: “The pressure on McPhee: you can just see it in his face.”

Check out the video below the jump. Trust us, it’s worth a look.

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The Marathon: Rangers beat Caps 2-1 (3OT)

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

The Washington Capitals returned home with hopes of gaining a series lead over the New York Rangers. Fans got involved with some rousing “O! V!” cheers, the Caps got their offense moving, and the ice was as soupy as you’d expect in the D.C. spring. But this game was unlike any others. It was a thing of History. Capitals history. And you can probably guess from that alone how it turned out.

After a scoreless first, Ryan Callahan converted a power play by tapping in a puck served up for him after bouncing off of Matt Hendricks. John Carlson tied it up with a dangle-icious wrister that went top shelf.

The third period was tense, but offered no resolution to the game. And so we went to overtime.

Alex Ovechkin rang the post on a huge breakaway– leading to some goal lights and a bit of premature celebration, but it was waved off. And thus we needed double secret overtime.

Brian Boyle blocked Mike Rupp’s sure-thing game-winner, and thus we needed triple overtime.

In trip OT, Jeff Schultz made the block of his life using his pants. Yeah, his pants. That’s how weird stuff got.

But then Marian Gaborik coordinated with Brad Richards to finally end it with some behind-the-goal-line action.

Rangers beat Caps 2-1 (3OT).

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