The Capitals had a chance to close out the New York Rangers on Madison Square Garden ice on Mother's Day but failed to finish, sending the series back to Washington for game seven. The Rangers survive on a goal from Derick Brassard (the game's only tally) and a perfect game from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the MSG crowd raucously celebrating the extension of their season.
No Caps' mothers would be proud of their boys at the end of the game, bad blood boiling over after the final horn. Washington put themselves into penalty trouble in the first period and never seemed to get their offense going against John Tortorella's bunch. New York's combination of clogging up ice in the neutral zone and hogging shot lanes in the defensive zone was Washington's demise, the series to be decided tomorrow night at 8PM.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Four of the first five games between these two teams were decided by a single goal and tonight's elimination game was no different. Lundqvist's first shutout of the series could not have come at a better time for the Rangers, the team now putting Washington on their heels returning home too.
- Alex Ovechkin entered today's contest with no points in three straight playoff games, the longest postseason drought of his career. Lundqvist's shutout ensured that the Russian's pointless streak would continue, but with several good looks during the game Capitals fans should expect that streak to end sooner rather than later (please).
- Ovechkin had a great shift in the defensive zone late in the first period, the captain blocking two shots from the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh at the point. The first block was taken off of Ovechkin’s skate boot and appeared to sting for a second. None the worse for wear, Alex tried to impede another shot before successfully blocking the Rangers’ third attempt from the blue line. Quite a shift in the defensive zone.
- The Rangers took the lead halfway through the game on Brassard’s second of the series, the forward manning a point position and firing one home. No Caps seemed hungry to get on Brassard's shot (Jay Beagle a stick length away) and one has to wonder what Steven Oleksy was doing on the tally, 6’ 4" Rick Nash allowed to stand unimpeded in front of (a blind) Holtby.
- Lundqvist stood tall against Ovechkin immediately after Brassard's tally, the Swedish goaltender stopping Alex’s backhanded look at an empty net with an outstretched stick paddle. With Red Rocking Nation already halfway out of their seats it was Lundqvist keeping the visitors scoreless and putting butts in the DMV back into their chairs.
- Jason Chimera led by example on enemy ice, the tenacious forward unwilling to the let the Rangers make a pass without paying for holding onto the puck. One of the few bright spots in a game full of short-sighted decisions, Chimera was the only reason Washington came close to drawing a penalty against New York. Adam Oates rewarded the power forward with ice time to start the Caps' 6 on 5 late-game press, a fantastic playoff road game from #25.
- Eric Fehr’s elbowing penalty in the first period may not have been deserved, but the Capitals’ winger put himself under the referee’s thumb when his right elbow came up against Derek Dorsett. The penalty killer’s choice put Washington down two men for fifty seconds, his teammates (led by Holtby) bailing out the big bodied forward. It wouldn't be the only time Washington put themselves at the mercy of referees Marc Joannette and Brad Watson.
- Washington's bench continued to put themselves in trouble, the visitors taking five minors against New York's zero. Sure, Caps fans can blame the stripes for a call or two, but Mike Green's late cross check to the chops of Dorsett is a stunner when down by a goal with less than eight minutes to play.
- Tom Wilson’s broken skate blade deep in the offensive zone is a great example of a problem hockey companies are trying to fix, which is failed equipment keeping players off the ice, on the bench, or in the dressing room. Head EQM Brock Myles must have been shaking his head during the fiasco with Bauer’s new Lightspeed Edge holder available (and on the skates of a few Capitals players). Wilson is playing without the new equipment on his skates, forcing Tom to unlace and Myles to the toolbox to replace the broken steel. Interesting note; three of the Caps’ four highest paid players are skating on the quick-release technology (Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Laich).
- Emotions got the best of both teams at the end of the game, Nicklas Backstrom and Dan Girardi at the center of the nonsense. Frustration certainly the root of the matter from Washington's side, leaving us to wonder where the passion was throughout the earlier sixty minutes of scoreless play.
Oates and team must take advantage of home ice, the home crowd, and the final line change on Monday night where they have been successul on three occasions in this series. As often is the case, the Capitals and Rangers will head to their seventh game of the series. Anything can happen with both teams facing elimination, and I do not envy Washington's task tomorrow. With Lundqvist riding sixty scoreless minutes of hockey it will be up to the home team's offense to press early and often against the Swede and his defense.