Game 7, anyone?
It didn’t take Washington long to establish the need for one more contest in the Round 1 affair between the Capitals and Rangers.
While the Rangers were busy swarming Alex Ovechkin in the first period of Game 6, New York forgot about the Capitals defensemen – and the blueliners made the host Blueshirts pay dearly.
Milan Jurcina, with his first point of the series, was at the right side of the net for a tap-in at 7:09 to open the scoring as well as inform his fellow Caps that Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is, in fact, beatable.
Scott Gomez responded for the Rangers a little more than a minute later, but Mike Green, finally, with his first of the post-season after 31 goals in the regular season, restored the Caps’ lead at 13:58 and then Tom Poti finished off a beautiful passing play on a 3-on-1 by swatting the puck under Lundqvist at 17:14, for his second goal of Round 1.
The Caps shot the puck in the first period and, like they did very well throughout the season, they scored. Often. Going back to the start of Game 5, Washington collected seven goals in a four-period span – much more palatable than the four goals they managed in their three losses to the Rangers in the series.
• Washington probably won’t have veteran enforcer Donald Brashear for Game 7 after the old pugilist – and part-time hockey player – initiated some physical contact Colton Orr at center ice during the pre-game warmups.
Nothing more than a couple of shoves, but it’s a black-and-white no-no and will likely merit a one-game ban. Brashear also levelled Rangers winger Blair Betts at center ice with what appeared to be a shoulder check. Betts didn’t return to the game and there might have been a little elbow mixed in with Brashear’s shoulder, so that play will surely be looked at by the league, too.
• So Brashear might be gone next game, but look who’s back. Sean Avery, benched in Game 5 after being whistled for too many dumb penalties, returned to the Rangers lineup. He was a factor on Gomez’s goal, but overall was one of several Rangers players whose effort was lacking.
• Lest we forget, that wasn’t John Tortorella calling the shots behind New York’s bench. Instead, Jim Schoenfeld wore the head coach hat while Tortorella served a one-game suspension for an incident with fans in the stands during Game 5.
Tortorella allegedly sprayed water over the glass (before being doused himself) and then threw a plastic water bottle, striking a female fan the head. He also reportedly grabbed a hockey stick and was threatening to go into the crowd with it before Schoenfeld stepped in and calmed down the fiery Rangers bench boss.
Don’t know what those Caps fans were saying to the Rangers coach (or what they were throwing or spraying, perhaps?), but it certainly pushed him over the edge. Frustration, anyone?
• Viktor Kozlov’s goal midway through the second period, which spotted Washington a 4-1 lead, was emblematic of the game for the Caps. Kozlov powered his way around Rangers defenseman Marc Staal – no easy feat – and then flipped the puck over Lundqvist before running over the Rangers goalie. Kozlov turned one of New York’s best defenseman into a pretzel on the play, scored and also inflicted a very solid body shot on Lundqvist, who must’ve been wondering where the rest of his team was at that point.
• Not that he was particularly busy – at all – but how about Simeon Varlamov? He’s 3-2 in five playoff games after playing his first six NHL games late in the regular season. Two shutouts, too, for the 20-year-old Russian stopper. Actually, make it 21 – his birthday is on Monday.
• For the second game in a row, the Rangers replace Lundqvist with backup Steve Valiquette at the start of the third period. Pretty sure we’ll see Lundqvist back in the crease for Game 7, though. He’s still been the Rangers’ best player, by far, in the series.
• The Rangers get the first 5-on-3 of the series early in the third period and make the most of it when Ryan Callahan scores to pull New York within three at 5-2. To make a game of it, though, the Rangers need to score on the 5-on-4 advantage, too. They don’t. (The Rangers get another 5-on-3 late in the third period, when Ovechkin and then Boyd Gordon draw minor penalties 48 seconds apart. The Rangers don’t really come close to scoring, but Staal scores with 5.4 seconds left to make the final 5-3).
See you in Game 7.
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