End Of Regulation
For the second time in six days, 60 minutes wasn't enough time to decide the outcome of a playoff game between the Capitals and Rangers.
The Verizon Center ice surface had transformed into a 200' x 85' chessboard, with neither side able to deliver the checkmate. New York protected its King, who in turn protected them against Washington's hard-charging pawns, who had fired 13 shots in the final 20 minutes to ultimately no avail.
As both teams retreated and regrouped within the confines of their respective locker rooms, Coach Adam Oates delivered a simple message.
"Guys will be tense, for sure, so make simple plays early, get into the rhythm, right back into the rhythm of the game," he said. "You're obviously hyped up and you don't want to let that affect you to a point where you make a mistake by it. Stay in control."
17:44 Of Overtime
As the overtime period began at 10:24 p.m., the tautly-contested chess match was swept away, giving way to a decidedly more wide-open game not usually played by either team.
Forward Mathieu Perreault broke into the offensive zone behind Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman and received a pass from forward Joel Ward. Perreault was in alone on Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and deked to his backhand, but Lundqvist extended just enough of his left pad to quell the threat.
"I kind of make a move and I thought he was going to open up and I was going to slide it five-hole," Perreault said. "As I try to slide it a little, lift my head, I had the whole far side open, like I could've just slide it far side. It's just one of those plays. It was close.
"I think I had him. If I would've go far side, I had him, but I try to slide five hole for some reason and he was there."
Rangers forward Rick Nash corralled the loose puck and immediately broke the other way, backing down defenseman Jack Hillen in the offensive zone before firing his first shot of the game, a backhanded attempt stopped by goaltender Braden Holtby.
"You always hear people say that one big save at one end always leads to a goal on the other end," said defenseman Karl Alzner, who watched both plays unfold from the bench. "So you see when Lundqvist makes that one that almost squeaks through, I think we were all a little bit nervous there. We're not teams that usually play too wide-open, so we were all getting a little nervous there."
12:43 Of Overtime
Forward Alex Ovechkin's second shot of the extra session was a wrist shot from the faceoff circle off a feed from forward Nicklas Backstrom. Lundqvist stopped Ovechkin's initial attempt, but left just enough of a rebound for Ovechkin to follow his shot. Lundqvist hugged the right post and stopped Ovechkin's second chance opportunity.
"Henrik obviously played great, so I was prepared for a five or six period game," Holtby added in regards to his counterpart's performance.
Lundqvist's freezing of the puck ended a period of 5:48 of uninterrupted hockey. There were 10 total shot attempts within that span.
12:21 Of Overtime
Not to be outdone by Lundqvist, Holtby made two saves in succession on the other end of the ice.
Rangers forward Carl Hagelin sped into the zone and fired a slap shot that went wide of the net. Forward Ryan Callahan took the puck away from Backstrom along the boards and found forward Derek Stepan in the slot. Holtby made the save and held his ground when Hagelin swiped at the rebound in front of the crease.
10:44 Of Overtime
Alzner sent a pass across the blue line to defensive partner Mike Green, whose slap shot was knocked down by Rangers defenseman John Moore. Green then intercepted Rangers forward Derick Brassard's attempted clearing attempt.
“I got the rebound in the slot and I just tried to put [the puck] out there and gave it to [Green] right away," Brassard said.
Green then passed back to Alzner, who had to fight his pass-first instincts while deciding what to do next.
"I really hate getting the shots blocked and they're so good at blocking them that I might as well pass to Greenie, who's probably the best defenseman in the league at shooting through the screen," Alzner said. "I knew I had some time to shoot and I just wanted to funnel pucks to the net.
"We were throwing pucks at the net," he continued. "We know what it's like in the defensive side: when pucks keep coming, you start to panic a little bit. We just wanted to keep funneling them to the net. And I don't even really know if I saw a lane; I just saw the guy go down. I was just trying to shoot wide."
Alzner's shot ricocheted off Capitals forward Troy Brouwer and Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman before bouncing right to a waiting Mike Ribeiro, who had inside position on Moore and pushed the rebound past Lundqvist to lift the Capitals to a 2-1 victory and 3-2 series lead.
"They’re a team that will take time and space on the ice," Ribeiro said. "They’re a team that likes to block shots, so we need to be patient and not get frustrated. We did a great job of doing that tonight – just saying patient and waiting and waiting and just turned them down wave after wave and putting pucks deep and forechecking those Ds and we were able to get that goal.
"All game we were grinding. All game, our line – pucks were in his cage, the puck wasn’t bouncing, and the puck just show up there. I was at the right time, the right moment, and we’ll take this win.”
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