While the Washington Capitals managed to take a two-games-to-none lead over the Rangers with a 2-0 win Friday night at Verizon Center, the mood in the dressing room afterward wasn’t exactly celebratory.
Several players said they believed they sat back too much in the third period, allowed the Rangers to carry the play. They emphasized that they can’t afford to do so moving forward. There’s little arguing that the Capitals spent the bulk of the final frame in their end, but they also held New York to six shots (nine in the final 40 minutes) thanks to a strong effort by the entire team to help protect Michal Neuvirth’s net.
It was a frustrating evening for the Rangers. Regardless of the territorial advantage at times, they weren’t able to manufacture much offense beyond the first period.
All of that was of little consolation to the Capitals, though.
“I think we were a little lackadaisical in the third,” Jason Arnott said. “We were panicking a little bit. That’s normal with young guys but we have to do a better job if we’re getting the lead going into the third. We have to keep forechecking, keep shooting pucks. They took it to us in the third. Out of all the positives, you have to look at the negatives.”
Perhaps this is the newfound attitude and perspective of a team that knows how important the small details and formulating correct habits can be to making sure a 2-0 lead in a series doesn’t unravel.
“They were coming on and we hung on,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think the first 10 minutes we hung on and the whole third period we played in our zone. I don’t think, if we want to be successful in the end, that can be done.”