The 50-50 games continue for the Capitals this postseason. On Wednesday night at Verizon center, in another tight Stanley Cup playoff game, the final break went against them again.
Marian Gaborik scored at the 14 minute, 41 second mark of triple overtime to help lift the New York Rangers to a thrilling 2-1 victory over Washington in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series. It was the ninth time in 10 games this spring that the Caps had played in a game decided by a single goal and its fifth overtime contest.
That record dropped to 5-5, which is what you would expect in tight-checking, low-risk games. Not so on this night, however, as the two teams traded chances all over the ice - Washington more often on rushes and the Rangers with some strong cycling below the faceoff circles. In the end, New York also took a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 scheduled for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Verizon Center.
The Caps had the better of the play during the scoreless first period, using the roaring home crowd to their advantage. They out-shot New York 13-10, but controlled possession and didn't allow many quality scoring chances. Alex Ovechkin had three big hits, two of them on Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, a shot on goal and a handful of other quality chances that missed the net. But goalie Henrik Lundqvist kept Washington at bay with some nice saves and a power play late in the period went by the wayside despite three shots on goal and some solid puck movement. The Caps struggled to generate traffic in front of Lundqvist and the Swede is almost impossible to beat with slap shots from the point.
So New York took the lead at 6:41 of the second period after Brooks Laich took a hooking penalty in the defensive zone. On the power play, a point shot by Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto hit John Carlson and then Matt Hendricks in front. The puck landed right at the feet of Ryan Callahan, who was free to slam a shot past Holtby for a 1-0 lead. New York outshot Washington in the second period 12-8 as the ice tilted in the other direction.
But Carlson got a break of his own later when Del Zotto pinched too deep into the offensive zone. The Washington defenseman saw an opportunity and took off up ice, made a nice inside-out move on forward Chris Kreider and defenseman Anton Stralman, took a wrist shot that was blocked by Staal, but rebounded right to Carlson moving left to right. He gave Lundqvist no chance, whipping a shot into the top left corner of the net to tie the score. In the end, New York outshot the Caps 12-8 in that period and generated far more pressure off the cycle. But the momentum resided in the home locker room.