Yesterday, the Washington Capitals eliminated the New York Rangers with a 3-1 victory in front of their home crowd.
Defenseman, Mike Green brought the crowd to their feet after scoring a power play goal just under six minutes into the game. After the goal, a brawl ensued between the two teams when Brandon Dubinsky shoved the Capitals’ Brook Laich into the crossbar. The fans were then treated to some “old time hockey”, as they witnessed a scene that resembled the movie Slap Shot. Six players fought, but only four roughing penalties were handed out, and the Rangers received an extra penalty for instigating the battle royal.
The first period would end with the Capitals on top 1-0. Then, seven minutes and four seconds into the second period, Ovechkin added another highlight-reel goal to his career when he blew past Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, and deked goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to light the lamp for the third time this series.
That goal ended up being the game winner, but the goal that ended the hopes of all Rangers fans was Semin’s third period dagger. The Rangers were trying to pull their goalie out in order to attempt a rally. It was a desperate time as the Rangers faced elimination. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Lundqvist was never able to leave the net. Capitals winger Marco Sturm fed a long pass to Marcus Johannson, and that gave Washington the numbers. Johannson led a “two-on-one” opportunity and set up Semin for the “one-timer” that blew past Lundqvist. It was the first time that the Capitals finished a series in five games, and now the team has been awarded a long rest before the second round. When Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was asked about their unfamiliar position, he said, “We’ve never done it before. I’ll have to give my head a shake when I wake up tomorrow, and wonder where we’re supposed to be playing.”
Before, when you heard “Alexander the Great” in Washington D.C., Caps fans were referring to Alexander Ovechkin. Now, they have two “Alexander the Greats”, as Alexander Semin emerged as one of the Capitals best players.
Semin has been a solid player for the Capitals. He has had a plus/minus rating of at least +22 in his last three seasons, including a +36 rating last year. However, the motto in sports is “What have you done for me lately?”, and before this series, Capitals fans remember that Semin was neutralized by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Semin failed to score a single goal against the Canadiens; after scoring 40 goals in the regular season. Last year, the Capitals and Semin were disappointments in the playoffs, as they were upset by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round.
This year, Semin and the Capitals were on a quest for redemption. Semin was clutch in game one of this series, when he scored the game-winner in overtime against the Rangers.
Semin is tied with Ovechkin, who many people consider to be the best player in hockey, with the most goals in this series with three. Semin also never had a minus rating in any of the five games this series. Ovechkin and Semin need to continue to score in order to give the Capitals a shot at winning the Stanley Cup.
Game One: In a defensive struggle, the Capitals found themselves trailing in the third period after the Rangers Matt Gilroy scored less than two minutes into the third. The Capitals remained persistent and Ovechkin tied the game with just under six minutes remaining in regulation. The game would go into overtime, and Semin finished the comeback with his game-winner.
Game Two: Rookie goaltender Michael Neuvirth has a spectacular game by shutting out the Rangers in a 2-0 victory. Game one was the Alexander show, and game two would be the Jason show as Jason Arnott and Jason Chimera scored for the Capitals.
The series visited Madison Square Garden for the first time and the Rangers crowd hoped to rally their team. It was a back and forth game. It appeared the two teams would head for another overtime game. However, the Rangers were able to feed off the energy from the crowd, and Brandon Dubinsky scored the game-winner with only 1:39 remaining in the game.
Game Four: By far, the most entertaining game of the series. This game needed to double overtime to determine a winner. The Rangers had a strong start and led the game 3-0 after two periods. The Capitals refused to lose. For the second time this series, the Capitals showed adversity and tied the game. Marcus Johannson provided a much needed spark for the team as he scored twice in the third. No one was able to score in the first overtime, but Chimera was finally able to break Lundqvist with his game-winner. New York was demoralized.
Game Five: Neuvirth nearly comes up with a shutout and the big names come up huge for the Capitals. Green, Ovechkin, and Semin all score to help their team advance to the second round.
Key Moment of the Series: The big comeback. Marcus Johannson rallied the Capitals in the third period of game four, and Chimera finished the comeback with his game-winner.
Person Most Upset on the Rangers: Coach John Tortorella, the Rangers gave this series away. They had the Capitals had leads in games one and four, but ended losing both of those games in overtime. Their game four performance was disappointing and heartbreaking for their fans.
Quote provided by: ESPN
Stats provided by: NHL.com
Images courtesy of: Rootzoo.com (Angry Tortorella), Media.mercedasunstar.com (Ovechkin and Backstrom Celebration), Foxkansas.com (Semin and Ovechkin), Media.northjersey.com (Dubinsky), and Russianmachineneverbreaks.com (Chimera)