It was certainly not from a lack of effort that the New York Rangers fell to their second loss in overtime in the quarter-final series at the Verizon Center Sunday afternoon. The Washington Capitals can thank their poised goaltender, Braden Holtby, for a performance that stole the show.
The Rangers had many close chances, one in particular coming just seconds from the end of regulation time. Rick Nash got the puck at the offensive blue line and made a dash for the net. Nash wristed a shot that hit just inside the left goal post and ricocheted out towards the right boards. Wrapped up amongst the Capitals’ defensemen, Nash could not get the rebound.
The bigger story here is the power play, while there were a number of times when the Rangers came close to putting one in the back of the net, the Capitals were able to hold the Blueshirts off. A big factor in the success of the Capitals’ penalty kill, is Braden Holtby.
The Capitals entered the series leading the league in power play opportunities. The Rangers knew they were going to have their hands full with players like Mike Robiero and Alexander Ovechkin slotting the special teams unit. The only goal of the game came on the Capitals’ power play in OT, as the Caps defenseman, Mike Green sent a one-timer past Lundqvist. The Rangers kept at it, while they did not score on the power play opportunities, they did not let up. It could have gone either way.
The Rangers had a power play early on in the overtime period, when Steve Olesky took a delay-of-game penalty at 1:51, lifting the puck over the boards. The Rangers were unable to capitalize on the man advantage, and seemed to be losing their jets. Seconds later, Ryan McDonagh, needing a shift change, tried to get the puck out of the zone, and sent the puck, yet again, over the boards. The Capitals came out with the win on their chance to take charge on the delay-of-game call.
Green acted as the quarterback, setting up the Washington power play from the blueline. Green gave it off to Ribeiro, who faked a shot from the top of the right circle, creating confusion for Ryan Callahan and John Moore. Ribeiro sent the puck back to Green for a one-timer that sealed the deal. The Capitals gained 2 games against the Rangers, and Green scored his first career playoff overtime winner.
John Tortorella felt his team looked frozen on the power play.
“We’re just too stagnant,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said of his struggling power play. “We’re almost paralyzed.” (NHL.com)
The Rangers will look to generate more offense on power play opportunities next game. They can not afford to dwell on the past two as they look to clinch the next two games at home.
It is by no means over. With two games at home, the Rangers will be raring to go. This team can come up big when they need to, and if there ever was a time to do so, it would be in game 3. The results of game 2 prove, this game is a game of inches. The close-but-no-cigar chance Nash had late in the third period could have gained the Rangers the tying series win, but the Capitals were able to hold on and pull off the win. Two games is certainly advantageous, but look out for the come-back kids next game. Game 3 and 4 are in Broadway Blueshirt territory, it is sure to be a sight to see.
It is also important to note that the Rangers out chanced the Capitals in the third period 6-1, next game they just need to look to capitalize on those opportunities. Nash had 3 grade A quality chances in the third and hit the post on one that could have been the game winner. It is a game of inches. If the Rangers can take advantage of those split second chances next game, this series could turn right around.
Adam Oates of the Washington Capitals said it himself, “It’s not over. We know that. They’re a very good hockey team.” (NHL.com)
Look to see a resilient Rangers team shift the momentum of this series next game, Monday at Madison Square Garden 7:30 p.m. ET.