Live by the blocked shot, die by the blocked shot. Monday night it was the latter for the Capitals as New York’s game winner in a 3-2 overtime victory changed directions on a block attempt.
When Marc Staal teed up a shot from the point, both Brooks Laich and Matt Hendricks dove to the ice in an attempt to stop it. The puck wound up deflecting off at least Laich — Hendricks wasn’t sure if it glanced off him as well – and beat Braden Holtby, who was heavily screened on the play.
“I didn’t see a thing,” said Holtby, who had John Carlson, along with Rangers’ Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov, blocking his view. “So, whether I had a lane or not I’d have to look at it on video to see if I could have done a better job seeing around the traffic. That’s what happens when we play a style where we block a lot of shots; sometimes those go in.”
It was a bad bounce — or rather, a bad redirection — and a risk that teams focused on blocking the puck must come to accept — even when it comes at the most excruciating moment in a playoff series.
“You’ve got to block. They did the right thing,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “It’s just a flukey thing where it hit Brooksie’s stick or skate or something and deflected it. That’s a break in hockey again. It’s hockey breaks.”
All told, the Rangers managed to get a total 38 shots on net against Holtby. The Capitals blocked 25 more, which is stunning, particularly considering that they out-saved Henrik Lundqvist in the opposite end. Lundqvist made 16 saves.