Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The playoffs have begun and the New York Rangers walked into the nations capital and defeated the Washington Capitals by a score of 4-3. In a game that was heavily tilted in the Caps favor, the Rangers held strong, weathered the storm and persevered in the end.
The Caps came out flying in the 1st period and outshot the Rangers by a 14-4 margin. Fortunately for the Rangers, the period ended at 0-0. One bullet dodged. In the 2nd period the Caps struck first on a PP when Tomas Fleischman deflected a quick shot from Alexander Ovechkin. But, the Rangers responded quickly when Scott Gomez answered with a 5-hole shot past Jose "Three or More"... er, Theodore (sorry, it sounded funny). In the last 5 minutes of the 2nd period, the Rangers struck twice on the PP... that's right, the PP actually worked! Nik Antropov made a nice fake and then fired a beauty from his offside past Theodore that was in and out of the net faster than a bullet. A little later, while again on the PP, Scott Gomez made a nice drop pass to Markus Naslund who snapped the puck past a stunned Jose Theodore - giving the Rangers the 3-1 lead late in the period.
You would think that the Rangers were in a great position with so little time left in the period up by 2. But when do the Rangers ever make anything easy? Someone fell asleep late in the period and it was Marc Staal. Staal allowed big Victor Kozlov to crash the net and one time a perfect pass from Nicklas Backstrom, cutting the lead to one. Sorry, just a bad goal to give up that late in the period... it definitely gave the Caps some life heading into the 3rd period. When the 3rd period started, I just had that uneasy feeling that Washington was going to tie the game up and it was just a matter of how and when. Alexander Semin banked in a rebound on the PP with Dan Girardi serving a tripping penalty - the game was now on.
The play was tight for both teams until after a PP attempt by Washington failed, Nik Antropov fed Markus Naslund with a nice pass who in turn fed a flying Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky, who made a nice outside-inside move on Jeff Schultz then fired a shot that beat Jose Theodore to the short-side to get the Rangers the 4-3 lead. Big goal by Dubinsky. The Caps then had one more crack at the Rangers on the PP, but to no avail. Huge win by the Blueshirts.
It's huge in a 7 game series to win the first game. Even more so on the road and the Rangers accomplished that tonight. Big time players play big when it counts - Gomez, Antropov, and Lundqvist would fit in that category tonight. Sean Avery was his usual self and kept the Caps off balance. Ryan Callahan may not have shown up on the scoresheet, but he was outstanding with his hitting, hustling, and he even hit 2 goal posts. The big thing is that the Rangers have Lundqvist and the Caps have Theodore - the biggest plus for the Rangers in this series. One more thing... nice call on Girardi 18 seconds into the game, gotta love the NHL and its officiating. It's a comedy act!
Game 2 on Saturday. Enough time to rest up and do it again and we will see if Chris Drury returns from his mysterious injury or not. The only problem for the Rangers is the national TV coverage hasn't been good to them this season. Although under Tortorella things have been decent, let's keep that trend going. Over and out!