The game was the Capitals’ fifth out of 10 this postseason to go to overtime, and their ninth decided by one goal. The third-longest game in franchise history added to the team’s legacy of marathon heartbreakers: All four games in Capitals history to go three or more overtimes have come at home, and all of them have ended in losses.
Adding to the sting of Wednesday’s defeat were the number of missed opportunities.
“That’s extremely, extremely disappointing,” Karl Alzner said. “Whenever you lose in overtime it sucks, but when you lose in triple overtime it’s even worse. We had so many chances and they either blocked it or [Henrik] Lundqvist came up with the save, or we hit a post. That just makes it even more frustrating.”
Said Alex Ovechkin: “It think it was that kind of game. Both teams fight very well, and that kind of moment, you know — you just have to use your chances. One chance. One chance. They have it and they scored. Unfortunately, we have before, that three-on-two, four-on-two, and we didn’t use it.”
The marathon outing was first triple-overtime game in the NHL since April 22, 2010, between Pittsburgh and Ottawa. It also marked the end of a seven-game losing streak for New York in playoff overtime games. The Rangers’ last postseason victory in extra time came April 29, 2007, in the second round against the Buffalo Sabres.
Gaborik snapped an eight-game scoreless streak with the tally, which was set up by veteran center Brad Richards from behind the goal line. Richards fed the puck to Gaborik out in front for a shot that beat Braden Holtby between the pads.
The goal ended stunning performances by both netminders. Holtby finished with 47 saves while Lundqvist, a finalist for the Vezina and Hart trophies, made 45. The Capitals’ rookie goaltender was his usual stoic self after the loss.
“Maybe I’ll accept it after the fourth round, after we win,” Holtby said, alluding to the Stanley Cup finals. “But that’s my job. My job is to stop pucks and to win games and I believe if I focus on every shot and play to the best of my abilities, with the group we have I’m confident we’ll win four games out of seven.”
The Capitals came out buzzing in their best start to any game of the second round, pinning New York in its own end for much of the opening frame and challenging Lundqvist to be alert early. He was up to the task.
Lundqvist turned away a shot by Jason Chimera on a two-on-one with Alexander Semin, a wide-open look by Joel Ward and a nasty snap shot by Ovechkin, among others.