The Washington Capitals’ lives are on the line in a must-win game against the New York Rangers at Verizon Center.
“You don’t want season to start over for next year,” Caps Captain Alex Ovechkin, who had one shot on goal in game five, said. “And you don’t want season be ended tonight. I think is gonna be do-or-die, I think. Right now everybody knows and everybody understands we just can’t go home right now.”
The Caps are down three games to two in the series and if they fall tonight, it will be the second year in a row they’ve lost in the second round of the NHL playoffs. If the Caps win, they’ll play the decisive game seven on Saturday in New York.
“I feel the exact same way, and everybody feels that way after the last game,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We definitely think that we are good enough to continue and good enough to beat a team like New York even though they’re playing as hard as they are. It’s tough when we’re staying right there with them and at times we’re better, at times they’re better. It’s the way playoff hockey should be. You’re going to get teams that are very evenly matched, and right now it’s one of those things.”
The Caps come off a devastating 3-2 loss in overtime to the New York Rangers on Monday after giving up the game equalizer with 7.6 seconds left in the 3rd period and the game winner 1:35 into overtime.
“We have to approach it as we need to win,” Caps forward Troy Brouwer said. “It’s been that way for most of the playoffs though. We’ve played good in the games when we’ve been down in the series and tonight especially being at home, we should have a lot of jump, we should have a lot of excitement in the building and we should be able to come out hard.”
Caps forward Jay Beagle missed the morning skate, but is expected to play tonight.
“He’s fine. Just resting his legs,” Hunter said on Beagle.
Hunter added that he will play.
If for some reason he can’t go, Jeff Halpern is likely to make his playoff debut this season.
All the other Capitals were on the ice for the morning skate today. Mathieu Perreault, John Erskine, Dmitry Orlov & Mattias Sjogren took the extra skate with the Hershey call-ups. Tomas Vokoun also skated with the scratches.
In three previous overtime losses this postseason, the Caps have responded with a win. Braden Holtby (2.02 GAA, .932 Save pct. in the playoffs) hasn’t lost back-to-back games in 28 straight NHL starts and the Caps as a team haven’t lost back-to-back games since March 22 and 23rd. Holtby is 5-0 with a 1.29 GAA after losses in these playoffs.
The first goal tonight could mean everything. The Caps are 6-1 when scoring first, but 0-5 when letting their opponents score first in these playoffs.
“In the playoffs most teams want to come out real hard in their own building,” Brouwer said. “They’ve got the crowd noise behind them, they’re excited to play at home, you can sleep in your own bed, there are just a lot of factors that go towards having good starts in your home building. Tonight being down a game, we’re going to desperate and we’re going to throw everything at them.”
Henrik Lundqvist (1.70 GAA, .937 Save pct.) will be in goal for the Rangers.
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Joel Ward & Matt Hendricks had to say following the morning skate.
Dale Hunter Morning Skate Audio
Alex Ovechkin Morning Skate Audio
Joel Ward Morning Skate Audio
Matt Hendricks Morning Skate Audio