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The Washington Capitals fell behind by three goals in third period, a dire situation if ever there was one, given the opponent and their goaltender. The Caps did make a game of it, though, with quick-strike goals by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Joel Ward less than three minutes apart mid-way through the third period. It was not enough to overcome the Rangers scoring in the first and last minutes of the first period, both goals coming off the stick of Chris Kreider, and a pair of early third period goals, however, as the Rangers defeated the Capitals in Game 6, 4-3, to force a Game 7 in New York on Wednesday evening.
Here's Sunday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: It wasn't Game 7
- Minus: Slow start...again. It was the Caps starting poorly...again, this time courtesy of a first-minute goal by Chris Kreider. It was the second time in this series that Kreider scored in the first minute, this time using his speed to chase down an off-the-boards pass by Jesper Fast, then his strength to ward off Matt Niskanen before backhanding the puck past goalie Braden Holtby to give the Rangers the early lead.
Ten more notes on the game...
- So what if Troy Brouwer scored at the 13:58 mark on a rebound of a Jason Chimera shot instead of shooting it into the right pad of goalie Henrik Lundqvist? How many times over the years have Caps fans asked similar hypothetical questions?
- The Caps scored on their first power play of the series, but they are 0-for-11 since, including coming up empty on four power plays in this game.
- The Caps showed some life in the middle 18 minutes of the first period and actually finished the period closer to the Rangers in shot attempts than one might have expected (32-26, New York). However, just one of those 26 shot attempts was authored by Alex Ovechkin.
- The Caps made a game of it early in the second period when Jason Chimera scored from about 18 inches, a goal reminiscent of his game winner in the second overtime of Game 4 of the 2011 first round playoff series between these two teams.
- It was a dominating second period for the Capitals as they out-attempted the Rangers, 35-14. Ovechkin had seven of those attempts.
- The Rangers won the star battle. Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle, Derick Brassard all had points. Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green...none. Backstrom has not had a point since Game 1 of this series (he has one assist in the series); Ovechkin has not had a point since Game 2 (2-1-3 overall), and Green does not have a point in this series (he has not had a point since Game 3 against the Islanders in the first round).
- Joel Ward was a monster for the Capitals. A goal, two assists, plus-3, five shots on goal, nine shot attempts. Jason Chimera had a goal and an assist. Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist. No one could complain about lack of secondary scoring in this game.
- It appears as Play 326 in the NHL official play-by-play: "11:30 -- hit, Ovechkin hit McDonagh, offensive zone." It might have been the most consequential non-scoring play of the series with the way McDonagh staggered off the ice. However, this is hockey. McDonagh returned for two more shifts in the last moments of the game, skating 2:32 of the game's last 3:07 for the Rangers.
- Was it just a hiccup? Braden Holtby allowed two goals on four shots in the third period. In fact, the last shot on goal for the Rangers in this game was Dan Boyle's goal at 4:24 of the third period to give the Rangers a 4-1 lead. As it was, it was the first time that Braden Holtby allowed four or more goals in a post-season game since he lost a 5-0 decision to the Rangers in Game 7 of the teams' first round playoff meeting in 2013.
- Odds and Ends... For the fifth straight series in which the Capitals have participated in the post season, they will go to a Game 7. It will be the ninth time in 11 playoff series in the post-2005 lockout era that the Caps will go the distance. They are 2-2 in their last four seven-game series and 3-5 since the 2005 lockout in seven-game series... the Caps have now played seven straight one-goal games in the post season to a record of 4-3... Brooks Orpik was credited with nine hits in this game... John Carlson had 15 shot attempts, seven on goal, both numbers leading the Caps...the Caps out-attempted the Rangers, 96-55, for the game (no, that is not a typo), 70-23 over the last two periods and 35-9 in the last 20 minutes.
And now, this...