In a display of impressive resurgence, the Washington Capitals rebounded from a deflating, triple overtime loss in game three, downing the rangers 3-2 to tie the series at two games apiece.
Many in the media (I’m looking at you NBC Sports Network) expected game three’s triple overtime defeat to have taken a mental toll on the Capitals. They expected the team to come out with a measured, conservative approach to the game, which would ultimately play into the Rangers’ strategy. The exact opposite turned out to be the case. Washington would outshoot New York 14-3 in the first period and would leave the ice up 1-0. After being robbed by Henrik Lundqvist earlier in the period, Alex Ovechkin would break through, scoring his fourth goal of the playoffs at 12:43. Rangers’ rookie stud and Boston College national champion, Chris Kreider, apparently trying to make a breakout pass to Dan Girardi, misfired, sending the puck directly to Ovechkin who made no such mistake, sending the puck sailing over Lundqvist’s glove and into the net.
Kreider’s miscue, which, had it been anybody in red, would have been a dazzling setup, was just the latest of a growing list of Ranger mistakes that have come back to haunt them in these playoffs. Testament to the team’s frustration, Rangers’ coach John Tortarella walked out of his postgame press conference after answering just one question. The whole affair took a mere twenty-one seconds. But, back to the game.
The Rangers would come out much stronger in period two. Appearing to have shaken off their poor start, they would tie the game when Artem Anisimov scored at 1:10 (2, assists: Dan Girardi, Brian Boyle). The goal looked to give the Rangers control of the game until Nicklas Backstrom decided that a change was in order. Shaking off several hits, Backstrom scored on a gorgeous wrist shot to give DC back the lead at 11:54. The “snipe,” was Backstrom’s second goal of the playoffs (assists: Jason Chimera, Joel Ward). New York’s Marian Gaborik, taking a perfect centering pass from Artem Anisimov, would score to tie the game back up at 16:43 (3, assists: Artem Anisimov, Marc Staal).
Each team, perhaps anticipating another overtime, played somewhat cautiously in the third period but, ultimately, both the final twenty minutes and the game would belong to Washington. As time wound down and overtime seemed increasingly certain, Mike Green would strike on the power play, giving the Caps the lead and the win. The incredibly timely goal, scored at 14:12, was Green’s second of the postseason (assist: Dennis Wideman).
It is safe to say that the Caps needed to win this one and, with their backs perilously close to the wall Washington got big performances from their stars: the players who needed to step up the most. Should this continue, the Caps could prove a very, very tough team to beat moving forward.