Reporting Sky Kerstein
Last year the Capitals hosted the Montreal Canadiens up 3-1 in game five. In the first 10 minutes the Canadiens put two past Semyon Varlamov and proceeded to win the game and eventually the series. The Capitals found themselves in the same situation today and took it to the New York Rangers from the drop of the puck on.
The Verizon Center was as loud as ever, the fans were on their feet chanting and the Caps were fired up. They put an onslaught on Henrik Lundqvist and any other goaltender would’ve given up three or four goals, but the hard work paid off. Almost six minutes in on the power play Alex Ovechkin through it at the net and Mike Green pushed it in and by Lundqvist and a last ditch diving effort by defenseman Dan Girardi. It was the first time any team had scored in the first period all series and the Caps had the all important momentum on their side. One scary moment occurred when Mike Green blocked a Matt Gilroy shot with the side of his head, he went to the locker room, returned to the bench later in the second period and all in the third but never was put into the game. Boudreau said afterwards Green is ok, they could’ve played him, but didn’t see a need to put him back in the game.
In the second period it was a lot of the same, the Rangers tried to fight back a little bit, but the Caps kept the pressure on when Scott Hannan found a break Alex Ovechkin down the boards and Ovechkin backhanded it by Lundqvist and gave the Caps a commanding 2-0 lead. The Rangers made a little push later in the period but didn’t get anything from it as Michal Neuvirth continued his stellar play.
The Caps went hard in the third really trying to end the series and late in the period Marcus Johansson led a 2 on 1 and passed perfect to Alexander Semin for the one timer and to end any chance of a Rangers comeback. The Rangers scored with 31.5 left in the third and their goalie pulled, but for the first time in the Boudreau era the Caps won a playoff series in less than seven games and now await their opponent defeating the Rangers four games to one.
The Caps stars were their stars tonight with Green, Ovechkin and Semin all scoring and for the first time this team showed a killer instinct coming out so strong in the first and Alex Ovechkin was happy they finished the series tonight, “It’s first time we win the series in five games. It’s pretty cool, we have time to rest. Right now I feel pretty good, but it’s not over yet, it’s just one step.”
Bruce Boudreau said late the series could’ve gone either way, “That was a really tough series. It was done in five but, I mean I think John (Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella) would say the same thing…either team could’ve won all five games.”
Michal Neuvirth stopped 26 of 27 shots and won his fourth playoff game. He couldn’t of down it himself and was very happy with their penalty kill that stopped 19 of the Rangers 20 power plays in the series, “Our Penalty kill was good all season long. The guys paying the price blocking shots. We’re playing as a group.”
The Capitals are 41-0-3 when scoring three or more goals in a game this season, 14-1-1 with Jason Arnott in the line up and are the only Eastern Conference team not to lose a home game in the playoffs so far. The earliest the next round could start is next Thursday and the Caps could play the Sabres, Canadiens, Lightning or Penguins. Mike Green received the hard hat and the Capitals will have tomorrow off and an optional practice Monday, 11am, from Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Check out what Bruce Boudreau, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich, Michal Neuvirth, Marcus Johansson, Jason Chimera, Karl Alzner, Matt Hendricks, Jason Arnott & John Carlson had to say following the series win tonight.
1st 5:59 PP Green (1), Ovechkin (3), Laich (3)
2nd 7:04 Ovechkin (3), Hannan (1), Laich (4)
3rd 16:23 Semin (3), Johansson (2), Sturm (1)
Bruce Boudreau Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio
Michal Neuvirth Postgame Audio
Jason Arnott Postgame Audio
Brooks Laich Postgame Audio
Marcus Johansson Postgame Audio
Jason Chimera Postgame Audio
Matt Hendricks Postgame Audio
Karl Alzner Postgame Audio
John Carlson 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.