Game one had the makings of another overtime thriller until a late third period goal by the Capitals left the New York speechless
Here’s how the game played out:
At puck drop, it was an electrifying atmosphere for the first game in this second round matchup.
Despite a slow start to the game (icings, problems in the faceoff circles, and technical glitches), the flow of the game got going.
The New York Rangers got their legs and started buzzing around the Washington Capitals net. After being off for several days from their first round victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, they looked fresh and were playing good hockey. The Capitals definitely looked like the slower of the two teams starting out.
The pace of play was tilted towards the Rangers end. The team was able to do what they do best: the stretch passing, quick transition from defense to offense, controlling the puck with few turnovers. Plenty of scoring opportunities, but Braden Holtby wasn’t allowing anything by him and tracked the puck well.
After a holding penalty was called on Dominic Moore, the Washington Capitals got on the scoreboard first. At 1:45 of the period, the league’s leading goal scorer Alex Ovechkin sniped a wrist shot over Henrik Lundqvist’s shoulder for a power play goal, his first of the series and fourth of the playoffs. The primary assist was credited to John Carlson (4) and Holtby (1).
The period ended with Chris Kreider finding himself in the penalty box, after taking a high-sticking penalty on Curtis Glenncross. It gave the Capitals another opportunity on the power play to begin the second period, a special teams advantage which the team was the best on for the regular season.
A 1:40 of power play time was carried over from the first for the Capitals. That was quickly negated by a penalty on Carlson for interfering with Rick Nash.
For half the period, scoring chances were exchanged for both teams. However, Lundqvist and Holtby were there to answer the challenges.
The Capitals had point-blank looks at Lundqvist, which he had to fight off. One of those saves was on a wrist shot from Nicklas Backstrom. With his glove, Lundqvist snatched out of the air and denied the Capitals top center.
The period ended with no further goals. Both teams had their opportunities but the goalies were one step ahead of their competition.
New York Rangers
Needing a goal, the Rangers tried to break Holtby’s spell.
One of those ways was to crash the net, literally. In the first minute, Kreider almost broke in behind the Capitals defense. However, Brooks Orpik was there to disrupt his momentum and rode him straight into Holtby, knocking Kreider into the goal.
At 4:39 mark of the period, the Rangers finally broke through. After being shutout against the Capitals netminder for most of the game, a tip-in goal off the stick of Jesper Fast tied the game up and gave the team a much needed relief. That goal was Fast’s first of the series and first playoff goal of his career. For nearly a minute, the Rangers swarmed and swarmed and kept the puck in the offensive zone. Credited with the assists were Carl Hagelin (2) and Kevin Hayes (1), who just put the puck towards the net hoping for something to happen.
With less than two seconds left in the game, the unthinkable happened. After Backstrom pinned Boyle to the corner boards, Ovechkin scooped up the loose puck and proceeded to skate behind the net. However, he surprised everyone and put the puck towards the front of the crease. Waiting was Joel Ward and slid the puck between Lundqvist’s legs to give him his second goal of the playoffs. Assists went to Ovechkin (4) and Backstrom (4).
The Capitals late goal stunned and silenced everyone. And with that, the Rangers found themselves down one game in the best-of-seven series.
Game two will be on Saturday at 12:30 EST.
Three Stars of the Game
More from Blue Line Station
- Blake Wheeler’s Broadway Calling: Why He Chose the Rangers
- Rangers’ Playoff Redemption Recipe: Grit and Fresh Hopes
- Rangers’ Roster Chatter: Who’s Making the Cut and Who’s in the Penalty Box?
- Jacque Plante Trade Tree Between the Rangers and Canadiens
- These Rangers must learn Peter Laviolette’s ropes before they can fly