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As Caps fans have been reminded for the past two days, the Washington Capitals have never gone up 3-0 in a playoff series. That dubious distinction was not invalidated tonight as the New York Rangers pulled out an exciting 4-3 win to cut the Caps lead to 2-1 in the series. Derrick Broussard led the way for the Rangers with three points.
Ten more notes on the game:
- You couldn’t have scripted the potential ending any better for the Caps. Down 4-3, the Caps earned a power play for the final 1:54 of the game. They pulled the goalie. They had offensive zone possession for just about the whole power play, 6-on-4. And then they registered zero shots on goal. Game, set, match.
- The Caps dominated the Rangers at even strength, taking a 30-18 lead in shots. It was the penalties that tipped the ice for the Rangers, as they earned six (some very dubious) penalties in the first half of the game, which kept the Caps off-balance and out-of-rhythm. Keep this at 5-on-5 and the Caps win. Lesson: stay out of the box.
- The Caps power play may take a lot of heat for not producing in the final two minutes. The team should take as much heat for letting Brian Boyle and Aaron Asham score for the Rangers. Meanwhile the Caps fourth line only tallied one goal.
- In a narrative shift, neither goalie tonight had great games. Both made some very nice saves, but neither were at their sharpest tonight.
- Defensemen John Carlson, Mike Green and Jay Beagle (on a wrister from Jack Hillen) all scored for the Caps. The Rangers have been conceding the point all series. The Caps now have the offensive-minded defenseman who can punish them.
- Conversely, all four of the Rangers goals occurred down low. Caps defensemen John Erskine and John Carlson did not have good games in the defensive zone tonight.
- Playoff hockey is simple. In the defensive zone you always make the easy play. In the first period, Joel Ward sent an errant breakout pass behind Matt Hendricks, giving the Rangers a free shot on goal. Oh, and Joel Ward also took a high-sticking penalty on the play. Make the easy play and no shot or penalty occurs.
- On said penalty, the Rangers tied the game on a Brian Boyle goal as the power play expired. Boyle walked around a flat-footed Mike Green and then beat Braden Holtby short-side. A bad sequence leading to a bad goal.
- After 22 seasons as color commentator for the Caps, you can argue that Craig Laughlin’s first period rant against the Caps “too many men” penalty was the most animated he’s ever gotten. And for good reason…The Locker pointed out that the Rangers had eight guys on the ice while the Caps had six. And then he counted them for us. The ref argument will be that none of the Rangers extra players affected the play but that the Caps extra player did. Hogwash. It was a bad call on a night full of them.
- Say what you want but this was a resilient effort tonight. They persevered through a game where they didn’t get many bounces or calls and took it to the wire.
A narrative will be written in the Big Apple that this was a "gutsy" win for the Rangers, just what they needed. Caps Nation will be resigned to their pillows tonight, lamenting the myriad of doomsday scenarios that may befall the red, white and blue. Folks, settle down. Teams have bad games, this was one of them for Washington. If the Rangers are to win another game in this series it will be because they outplayed the Caps, not because they caught the Caps on an off-night. On to Wednesday.