Alexander Semin came into the Rangers series with his last playoff goal coming on April 28th, 2009 in game seven against the New York Rangers. It was a draught of fourteen playoff games, well that draught is over when Jason Arnott picked off the puck and found a cutting Semin between the circles to rifle one pass Henrik Lundqvist and give the Caps a 1-0 series advantage.
Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau called both goalies “outstanding” tonight and he was spot on. Both Michal Neuvirth and Henrik Lundqvist were terrific and spotless through two periods of work. The Caps were though the better team and Semin, Arnott and Mike Knuble came oh so close just missing shots of the posts and the Caps were dominating play in their offensive zone. But not being able to take advantage of it, the Rangers got on the board first. Only 1:56 into the third, John Erskine got beat on the boards for the puck behind his own net by Wojtek Wolski who found a cutting Matt Gilroy who beat Neuvirth low and through traffic for the 1-0 lead.
Coach Boudreau then decided to switch things up and put Alexander Semin on the first line and it worked. With just over six minutes remaining in the third, Semin went hard to then net and tried banging in the puck, Alex Ovechkin just through his body into the mix and somehow the puck got by Lundqvist and in to tie it up. The goal had to be reviewed but it was good and was the dirty goal that this team always talks about. Ovechkin later admitted he never saw the puck and just went in there trying to make contact and see what happens.
In overtime both goalies continued to make great save after great save and it looked like there was definitely going to be a second overtime. But Jason Arnott showing why they made the trade deadline deal for him picked the puck up and found a cutting Semin to put this game in the books with a Capitals win. The Caps last year lost game one to the Montreal Canadiens in overtime and even though for most of game one it felt like watching a rerun of last year’s Canadiens series, the growth showed tonight never giving up and getting down after Lundqvist made some amazing saves including on a Nicklas Backstrom open breakaway.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 24 in his NHL playoff debut. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 and dropped his playoff record to 14-17. The Rangers are regarded as one of the best shot blocking teams in the NHL, but the Caps blocked more shots tonight 32-28 including eight by Karl Alzner. Caps defenseman Mike Green played in his first game since February 25th and Boudreau said he was “outstanding.” Boudreau also said Green played one of his best playoff periods in the first and logged a good amount of ice time in the game. Alexander Semin got the hard hat.
The Caps and Rangers play game two Friday at 7:30pm from Verizon Center. Check out what Bruce Boudreau, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom & Michal Neuvirth had to say following the game.
3rd 13:44 Ovechkin (1), Semin (1), Green (1)
OT 18:24 Semin (1), Arnott (1)
Bruce Boudreau Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio
Mike Green Postgame Audio
Michal Neuvirth Postgame Audio
Sky Kerstein is 106.7 The FAN’s Capitals Beat Reporter and co-host of “Morning Skate” every Sunday from 9am-10am on 106.7 The FAN. Also you can find video recaps of every Caps game and post-game interviews on www.1067thefandc.com. You can get in touch with Sky on Facebook or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/SkyKerstein.