Rangers 4, Capitals 3
Familiar Feel –
Washington bounced back from a two-goal deficit to even the score early in the third at 3-3, but Brandon Dubinsky scored what proved to be the game-winner at 11:17 of the final frame to give the Rangers a 4-3 Game 1 win and a 1-0 series lead.
Both teams now have two days to think, adjust and rest before the puck drops for Game 2 on Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center.
Washington dominated the first period in all aspects of the game, but failed to turn that dominance into a lead on the scoreboard. The Caps have had several such games this season where their inability to grab an early lead despite early dominance has resulted in a loss.
The Caps outshot New York by a 14-4 margin in the first period of Wednesday’s Game 1. They outhit the Rangers by 16-11. They won 11 of 15 draws. They also failed to score, allowing the Blueshirts a moral victory of escaping a poorly played first period and still being even on the scoreboard. New York got good goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist in the first, and it kept the Rangers in the game until they were able to get some pucks behind Caps goalie Jose Theodore.
New York turned the tide of the physical game on Washington, outhitting the Caps 24-11 over the game’s final 40 minutes.
“We found a way,” said Rangers coach John Tortorella after his team wrested home ice advantage in the series from the Caps in Game 1. “[There were] ups and downs throughout the game by both teams. Dubinsky makes a key play at a key time and scores the game winner. We feel good about it. We’re in for a series here. I’m happy about winning one of them and we’ll get ready to play the next one.”
Making The Most –
New York managed only 21 shots on goal in Game 1, getting 11 of them in the middle frame when they scored three unanswered goals in a span of 10:39.
Six times during the regular season Washington held the opposition to 21 or fewer shots on goal. The Capitals were 6-0 in those six games.
“We allowed 21 shots and [four] power plays,” said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “I thought we did a great job defensively. I don’t know how many chances to score they had, I haven’t figured that out yet, but I don’t think it was a lot. They scored four goals. That’s crazy. I thought we played great defensively.”
Killed on the Kill –
The Caps took only four minor penalties on the night, but New York’s anemic power play – ranked 29th in the league with a 13.9% success rate during the regular season – scored twice on those four chances.
In the four regular season meetings between Washington and New York, the Caps killed off 14 of 15 (93.3%) New York power play chances.
The Blueshirts needed just one playoff game to double that regular season power play output against the Caps.
In Wednesday’s Game 1, the Rangers scored two power play goals in a span of 99 seconds late in the second period to take a 3-1 lead in the game. Nik Antropov scored after John Erskine
high-sticked Sean Avery and then Markus Naslund made the Caps pay for Sergei Fedorov’s delay of game-puck over glass call, his second such penalty this month.
Including tonight’s minor, Fedorov had been whistled for 18 minutes in penalties in his last seven games. Four of his nine minors over that span have been for hooking, two for holding, two for delay of game, and one for boarding.
First Blood No Help –
Washington scored the game’s first goal when Tomas Fleischmann redirected Alex Ovechkin
’s shot from center point past Lundqvist.
During the regular season, the Caps were the sixth best team in the league when scoring the game’s first goal, but this is not the regular season anymore. The Caps were 34-8-3 (.756) in the 45 games in which they scored first in 2008-09.
At his morning press conference prior to Wednesday’s Game 1, New York head coach John Tortorella ceded that his team would not be able to stop Ovechkin – the league’s leading goal scorer with 56 during the regular season – but that he hoped the Rangers would be able to contain the Caps’ dynamic left winger.
Ovechkin was the best player on ice to most observers. He drew three of the seven penalties New York committed, led all players on both teams with 13 shots on goal and three takeaways and led the Caps with six hits, all of which came in the first period. Ovechkin also had a pair of primary assists.
He skated 26:07 on the night, including a staggering 11:51 of the 12:13 in which Washington enjoyed the man advantage.
Ovechkin did not light the lamp, and New York won the game, so Tortorella is likely to consider him contained. For this night, anyway.
Long Time Coming –
Caps winger Viktor Kozlov netted the first NHL playoff goal of his career late in the second period to pull the Caps within a goal at 3-2. The tally came in his 22nd career postseason game in the league.
Kozlov’s previous pro goal in a North American playoff game came for the Kansas City Blades in the now-defunct International Hockey League some 14 springs ago, in 1995.
Draw Dominance –
Washington finished the regular season as the league’s seventh best team in the face-off circle, and the Caps kept up that circle dominance against New York in Game 1.
The Capitals won 46 of 66 draws (70%) on the night. All six Caps face-off men finished with a winning pct. of better than 50%.
won four of five (80%), Brooks Laich
won eight of 11 (73%), Nicklas Backstrom
won 13 of 18 (72%), Fedorov was 14 for 20 (70%), David Steckel
won three of five (60%) and Michael Nylander finished with four wins in seven tries (57%).
Multiple Power –
The Rangers put together an amazing penalty killing run at the end of the regular season. New York’s top-ranked regular season penalty killing unit finished with a sparkling 87.8% kill rate on the season.
The Blueshirts made it through their final 29 games of the season without surrendering multiple power play goals in a game. The Caps victimized the Rangers twice tonight, but needed seven chances to do so. New York faced as many as seven opposition power play chances just once in those final 29 games.
New York killed 97 of 108 (89.8%) opposition power plays during that 29-game season-ending stretch.
|Three star selections