Coming into the game, the big key for the Capitals was how they were going to weather the storm. The Madison Square Garden faithful were on their feet and waving their towels in full force trying to spark their Rangers. Well the Caps made it through the first and the initial surge with no damage and for the third time in the series nobody lit the lamp. The Rangers did get their chances, including a 5 on 3 late in the period, but couldn’t put one in.
The second period was a different story. The Caps took eight penalties in the game, seven led to power plays for the Rangers and the Rangers took advantage of it in the second. Erik Christensen beat Michal Neuvirth from the side on the power play and gave the Rangers an early advantage and all the momentum. The Caps had four penalties in the second compared to 0 for the Rangers, but the Caps penalty killed stifled the other three.
With a minute left in the second, Jason Arnott, who was moved up the #1 line in the second period and Nicklas Backstrom was moved down a line, found Alex Ovechkin right in front of the net and Ovechkin tipped it high and by Henrik Lundqvist to tie it at 1, but the period had a little more drama to it. Right when the period ended it looked like the Rangers might of taken the lead when a centering pass bounced off some people and by Neuvirth and it was called a goal on the ice. It was reviewed and overturned and the Caps were lucky to get out of the period tied.
In the third the Rangers took the lead once again, Vinny Prospal knocked in a rebound off a long Marc Staal shot to get the momentum back on their side. But a late Marian Gaborik penalty led to a Caps power play that Mike Knuble beat Lundqvist on a one timer to tie it up off of a great Nicklas Backstrom pass. But the Rangers came right back, when they were being more aggressive in the corner the puck got deflected up in the air right in front of Neuvirth and by him with only 1:39 left in the third and gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead and the Caps couldn’t recover from that.
The Caps still lead the series 2-1 with game four being Wednesday in New York. The Rangers were the more aggressive team all day and out shot the Caps 35-25. But the big difference in the game were the penalties. The Caps had three power plays to the Rangers seven and it looked a lot like game three vs. the Penguins in 2009 when the Caps were up 2-0 in the series. When asked if they had trouble getting into their game with so many penalties, Nicklas Backstrom said, “It wasn’t me, it was the ref.”
The Caps will have to regroup as they head back home for a few days before game four. This is Michal Neuvirth’s first ever playoff loss and he still looked solid for the most part. Alex Ovechkin once again led the Caps with 5 hits. This is also the first time the Caps have lost in regulation (12-1-1) with Jason Arnott in the line up. Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella said after the game,
“I thought we were really aggressive in Washington. We are not far off. Now it is 2-1, but it could be reverse, it could be us 2-1. It is that close. We are not going about our business any different. We are just going about our game.”
Game four is at 7pm on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Check out what Bruce Boudreau, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, Nicklas Backstrom, Scott Hannan and Matt Bradley had to say following the game.
Bruce Boudreau Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio
Mike Knuble Postgame Audio
Scott Hannan Postgame Audio
Matt Bradley 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.