Right Goal by the Right Guy at the Right Time – Caps right wing Matt Bradley picked a great spot for the first Stanley Cup playoff goal of his NHL career. Playing in the 22nd playoff contest of his NHL career, Bradley was out killing a penalty for the Caps when he raced after a loose puck just inside the New York line. He scooped it up, skated in and calmly did what the Capitals have had so much trouble doing in this series, he beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
The goal energized the crowd and Bradley’s teammates, and the Caps cruised to a 4-0 win. Washington lives to play another day; the Rangers still lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 coming on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
It took 22 games for Bradley’s first playoff goal, but just over seven minutes for his second. Just for good measure, Bradley added a second strike on Lundqvist 7:09 later. The two-goal game was his first since he potted a pair against the Boston Bruins on March 3, 2008.
Prior to his pair of tallies in Friday night’s Game 5, Bradley’s previous playoff tally came in 2001 when he was a member of the AHL’s Kentucky Thoroughblades.
No Kidding – Still a few days shy of his 21st birthday, Caps goaltender Simeon Varlamov posted his second 4-0 shutout of this series. After Jose Theodore allowed four New York goals on 21 shots in 60 minutes of work in Game 1 of this series, Varlamov has permitted just three goals on 98 shots in 240 minutes of work. He has a 0.76 playoff GAA and a .969 save pct.
Varlamov joins Olie Kolzig and Don Beaupre as the third Caps goalie ever to record more than one playoff shutout in his NHL career. Varlamov and Kolzig (four shutouts in 1998) are the only two Washington netminders ever to record multiple playoff shutouts in the same postseason.
Leader of the Pack –Alexander Semin scored his fourth goal of the 2009 playoffs in Friday’s Game 5. He is tied for the league lead in that department.
Special Delivery – Bradley’s shorthanded goal proved to be the game-winner, and the Caps killed off all four New York power plays on the night. Washington has now killed off all 18 Rangers power play chances since the Blueshirts bagged a pair of extra-man tallies in Game 1.
Economy – Washington had one goal in 39 shots on Lundqvist in Game 4, a 2-1 New York win. The Capitals netted three goals with just eight shots on Lundqvist in Friday’s Game 5.
Bradley’s shorthanded strike came on Washington’s first shot of the game. His second goal came on the Caps’ fourth shot of the night. Alexander Semin’s second period goal came on Washington’s eighth shot of the night.
Short Stuff – Bradley’s shorthanded goal was the first by a Capital in a playoff game since Steve Konowalchuk victimized the Penguins for a shorthanded strike on April 19, 2000.
Another One – Ovechkin electrified the crowd in the final minute of the second period with another in his seemingly endless quiver of highlight reel goals.
Ovechkin collected the puck at the New York line. He spun Chris Drury around, eluding the Rangers captain in the process. He then put the puck through the legs of defenseman Derek Morris, also turning him into a top. He then lowered his right shoulder and carried the puck to the net with New York’s Aaron Voros in pursuit. With Voros riding herd on Ovechkin’s back, the Washington winger went down to the ice, sliding a backhander past Lundqvist as he did so.
With that goal, Drury was at minus-3 in just 7:10 of ice time on the night. He took one third-period twirl that lasted a total of 11 seconds.
Welcome To The Show – After the Caps netted four goals in the game’s first 40 minutes to put the contest out of reach, Rangers coach John Tortorella pulled Lundqvist in favor of backup Steve Valiquette. For Valiquette, the Game 5 relief outing represented the first NHL playoff action of his career.
The lanky (6-foot-6, 220-pound) goaltender turned in a spotless period, stopping all seven shots in his 20 minutes of work. Six of those 20 minutes were while the Rangers were shorthanded.
16 Out – After he took six minor penalties – including two in the third period of a one-goal game in Game 4 – in the last two games, Sean Avery was scratched from the New York lineup in favor of Aaron Voros on Friday.
According to the Rangers’ playoff media guide, the Rangers are 61-26-17 in 104 games with Avery in the lineup and the Blueshirts are 9-13-3 in the 25 games in which he has not dressed. The guide does not mention whether or not those totals include playoff action.
In this series, the Rangers are 3-1 with Avery in the lineup and 0-1 when he has not played.
Happy Birthday – To a pair of ex-Caps defensemen. Darren Veitch, Washington’s first-round choice (fifth overall) in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft was born on this day in 1960. And Ken Klee, the Caps’ ninth-round choice (177th overall) in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, was born on this day in 1971.
Down On The Farm – It was a pretty strong night for the young goaltenders in the Washington system. The AHL Hershey Bears took the ice at Giant Center on Friday night, looking to administer the death blow to the Philadelphia Phantoms. Behind the 23-save efforts of goaltender Michal Neuvirth, Hershey edged the Phantoms 1-0 to complete a four-game sweep of their East Division rivals.
Graham Mink scored the game’s only goal – his first of the playoffs – on a Hershey power play at 1:30 of the middle frame. Alexandre Giroux and Chris Bourque assisted. Neuvirth, a month past his 21st birthday, took care of the rest. He is now 4-0 with a 1.50 goals against average and a .945 save pct. in the Calder Cup playoffs. Neuvirth ranks third in the AHL in both playoff goals against average and save pct.
The Bears will now meet the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the East Division finals of the Calder Cup playoffs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ousted the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in five games.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays opened their second-round Kelly Cup playoff series against the Florida Everblades in Florida on Friday night.
South Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 19:11 of the first period on a goal from matt Scherer, who was aided by Spencer Carbery and Nikita Kashirsky.
Florida knotted the score on a power play goal early in the third, and the two teams needed overtime to settle the series opener. The Stingrays came away with the win when defenseman Zach Tarkir netted the game-winner at 8:34 of the extra session. Trent Campbell and Jeff Corey supplied the assists, making a winner out of Jonathan Boutin. Boutin made 31 stops to run his playoff record to 4-1.
The two teams face off in Game 2 on Saturday night at Germain Arena in Florida.
1 - 0 WSH
2 - 0 WSH
3 - 0 WSH
4 - 0 WSH
Too many men on the ice