“We wanted to attack. We didn’t want to sit back and let any opportunity go to waste or let them feel good about themselves,” said Brooks Laich, who recorded two assists. “We wanted to put them on their heels and try and give them a reason to quit. We knew they weren’t gonna, but we were going to try to make it tough on them.”
Washington continued to control the play for the duration of the first, but would suffer one potentially significant loss. With 6:11 remaining in the period, Green, who missed 26 of 28 games at the end of the regular season with a pair of concussions, was hit on the left side of the head by a slap shot from New York’s Matt Gilroy. Fragments of Green’s helmet scattered on the ice, but the defenseman went off the ice under his own power. He returned to the bench but didn’t play another shift in the game.
Members of the Washington Capitals discuss their series-clinching 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday at Verizon Center.
Track every shot and goal of every Capitals playoff game.
The five-defenseman rotation didn’t seem to hamper the Capitals, though, and Ovechkin made sure to take some pressure off the team by adding to the lead. After a Rangers turnover, Scott Hannan made a breakout pass to Ovechkin, who streaked up the right wing and powered his way past Marc Staal for a backhanded shot that completed the stunning play.
“Today was his best game, easily,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Ovechkin. “And I mean complete. The other games he’s had flashes of brilliance and then he’s been not so visible. Today, I thought he was very visible. He was on the ice doing the right things and I thought his goal was spectacular.”
Ovechkin’s third goal of the playoffs put Washington up 2-0 just 7:04 into the second, giving the home team an opportunity to stifle a Rangers squad that was forced to take excessive risk to keep its season alive. Those chances led to a two-on-one for Marcus Johansson and Semin late in the third, with the Russian winger potting his third goal of the postseason to make it a three-goal edge, but at that point there wasn’t any doubt of the result.
“I liked the way we suffocated them,” said Laich, whose team has allowed the fewest goals of any in the postseason at eight. “We were systematic, we didn’t give them any room to breathe or any reason to hope that they might be able to come back.”