The art of shot blocking as been elevated to new heights in these playoffs. The New York Rangers led the league in blocked shots this season. Today the Washington Capitals used that element of the game to defeat the Rangers 3-2 and tie the Eastern Conference Semi-Final at two games apiece. The Capitals blocked 26 Ranger shots, which in turn frustrated the Broadway Blueshirts, and propelled the Caps to victory.
The Capitals dominated the first period, outshooting the Rangers 14-3. Alexander Ovechkin got the only goal of the first, firing a shot off Henrik Lundqvist’s glove into the top corner. The Caps had plenty of chances in the opening frame, but Lundqvist was terrific at holding the fort.
The Rangers came out with more purpose in the second period, and tied the score 1:10 into the period, thanks to Artem Anisimov’s second of the playoffs. The Caps regained the lead midway through the second as Nicklas Backstrom fired a wrist shot past Lundqvist for his second of the postseason. The Rangers tied it late in the second as Anisimov beat out an icing call, and fed Marian Gaborik who scored his third of the playoffs.
The third was a roller-coaster ride as both teams had plenty of chances, mixed in with tight, tense hockey. Rookie Carl Hagelin took a slashing penalty 13:45 in, and the Caps made him pay. Mike Green, who had been largely invisible in the playoffs whistled a laser past Lundqvist on the power play to give the Caps the lead they would hold onto.
This was an important win for the Caps, as they did not want to head into Madison Square Garden down 3-1 in the series. The Rangers on the other hand, may rue this blown opportunity. After a thrilling triple overtime win on Wednesday, the Rangers couldn’t bury the Caps when they had the chance. This now has the makings of a classic series, with storylines galore. Game 5 is set for Monday night in Manhattan.
1. Mike Green
2. Artem Anisimov
3. Nicklas Backstrom