When teams have as much recent history in the playoffs as the Capitals and Rangers do, there’s no reason not to take a stroll down memory lane and revisit the good, bad and crazy that occurred along the way.
2011-12 Eastern Conference semifinals, Rangers win in seven
A playoff series can pivot on anything, and in this case it was a four-minute high sticking penalty by Joel Ward with 22 seconds remaining in regulation of Game 5. Washington held a one-goal lead at the time, but the Rangers went on to score a pair of goals on the ensuing power play – one by Brad Richards with 6.6 seconds left to force overtime and the deciding tally by Marc Staal just 1:35 into the extra session — to capture a 3-2 win.
That loss was the gut punch that the Capitals, even though they would force a seventh game, never truly recovered from.
Here’s the video of Richards’s goal.
While Washington couldn’t find a way to advance beyond the second round, the players proved to themselves and others in last year’s postseason run under Dale Hunter that it could win gritty, low-scoring playoff games.
2010-11 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Capitals win in five
Remember when Bruce Boudreau said the atmosphere at Madison Square Garden wasn’t anything special? I do. The chorus of “Can you hear us?” throughout Game 4 at the Garden remains the loudest I’ve ever heard an arena – either for general enthusiasm or to prove a point.
Unfortunately for the Rangers faithful, the team didn’t match their fervor. Jason Chimera recorded the game-winning goal in double overtime for a 4-3 victory that night after Marian Gaborik (now with the Columbus Blue Jackets) made an ill-fated play on the puck in his own zone.
Here’s the video of the Garden rocking:
And Chimera’s game-winner, complete with the celebration that followed:
2008-09 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Capitals win in seven
Back when the “Young Guns” were genuinely young and playing in just their second straight postseason, Washington fell behind the Rangers three games to one in the first round. But the Capitals forced a decisive Game 7 after claiming wins in the next two contests, outscoring New York 9-3.
Sergei Fedorov scored the game winner to catapult Washington into the second round with a 2-1 victory.
Game 5 of that series was also when John Tortorella threw a water bottle at a fan behind the visitors’ bench at Verizon Center, prompting the fan to respond in kind throwing a half-cup of beer at the coach. Tortorella was suspended for Game 6 because of the incident.
Below is the video of Fedorov’s goal: