In the first triple overtime game of these playoffs, the New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals to retake the series lead.
Things started off well for the Caps as they fired thirteen shots on New York’s Henrik Lundqvist in the first period. True to his MVP caliber form, however, Lundqvist turned them all aside, keeping Washington off the scoreboard. Braden Holtby was similarly solid on the opposite end, facing down all ten shots the Rangers sent his way.
Ryan Callahan would kick off the game’s limited scoring in the second period, beating Holtby in front of the net at 6:41. The goal, which came on a power play, was Callahan’s third of the playoffs (assists: Michael Del Zotto, Marian Gaborik). The surge received by the Rangers following their young captain’s goal would be short lived. At 11:10, John Carlson would even the score at one, capitalizing on a sloppy defensive turnover in the Rangers’ zone. It was Carlson’s first goal of the playoffs (assists: Alexander Semin, Karl Alzner). Carlson’s goal was the last scoring that would be seen in game three for quite some time as period three, fast paced though it was, came and went, leaving nothing settled.
The first of three overtime periods nearly saw the Capitals win twice. First, Troy Brouwer received a slick centering pass from Matt Hendricks, only to push the puck inches wide of the open net. Minutes later, Alex Ovechkin, taking advantage of another sloppy defensive turnover, rang the post behind Lundqvist. Frustratingly close as their chances were, the marathon would continue.
While the Caps had their near misses in the first overtime, The Rangers would be equally frustrated in the second. Seeing an open net and an end to the game in front of him, Mike Rupp sent the puck sailing towards the twine only to have it be blocked by the rear end of his teammate Brian Boyle.
Finally, after nearly two full games of hockey, Marian Gaborik would end the longest game of the 2011-12 playoffs at 14:41 of overtime number three. The game winner, which instantly took all of the air out of the packed Verizon Center, was his second goal of the playoffs (assists: Brad Richards, Dan Girardi).
The Caps will need to shake off the disappointing loss in short order if they are to stand a chance of retying the series. In an encouraging sign, Alex Ovechkin had arguably his best game of the playoffs, a performance which saw his ice time rise dramatically. Should he bring the same level of intensity to game four, the Caps could easily find the series tied once again. Thankfully for both teams, the pivotal game four is not until Saturday.