Good afternoon, everyone. Just took my seat in the press box here at Madison Square Garden, which, unlike the other 29 arenas, is in the lower bowl, right over the Zamboni tunnel.
The upside of sitting so low is that reporters can actually SEE and HEAR the action from only a few feet off the rink. The downside is that Rangers fans can, and sometimes do, offer tips on what to write as you’re typing.
It’s annoying, trust me. But not nearly as annoying as the goal song that’s played at 100 decibels. Hey...Hey...Hey, Hey Hey. Anyone who’s been to a game here knows what I’m talking about. It rings in your ears all the way home.
Of course, the Rangers will actually have to beat Michal Neuvirth for that to happen.
Anyway, I’m off to find a pregame hotdog. Check back closer to puck drop for the Caps’ lineup.
--Update, end of game: Rangers win, 3-2, on Dubinsky's goal.
New York outshot the Caps, 35-25.
This series is not over. Game 4 is Wednesday back here on Broadway.
Got to run to the dressing room. Thanks for joining me.
--Update, 18:21 third period: The Rangers just got a lucky bounce. Dubinsky went hard to net along goal line, puck went off Alzner and past Neuvirth.
Neuvirth had no idea where puck was until it was over the line.
--Update, 14:48 third period: Knuble jams in rebound off of a Backstrom shot on power play. Caps cash in only scoring chance of the third.
They need to send a thank-you card to Marian Gaborik, whose biggest contribution so far has been the cross-checking penalty that led to the goal.
--Update, 9:13 third period: Backstrom's tripping infraction is the Caps' seventh penalty of the game. SEVEN, I said. Ridiculous.
--Update, 8:01 third period: Prospal strikes, flipping rebound past a sprawled Neuvirth. Neuvirth made the initial save on a point shot by Marc Staal, but couldn't trap the puck against chest protector. Rangers had traffic in front, too.
--Update, 7:02 third period: Caps getting out-shot 26-19. But it doesn't feel like they're being outplayed.
Also starting to re-think the 8 p.m. Acela back to Union Station. Game might not be over by then at this rate.
--Update, end of the second period: Weird end to a strange, strange period here at MSG.
The Caps catch another huge break. The Rangers appeared to retake the lead with 0:01 seconds remaining on the clock after Fedotenko's shot entered the net as time expired. It was called a good goal on the ice, but the officials in Toronto over-ruled the on-ice officials, ruling that time had expired before the puck crossed the line.
So let's see here. The Caps killed off a long 5-on-3 and a short one. They've taken six penalties. And they just had a goal waved off. And the score is tied 1-1.
When you get that many fortuitous bounces, you had better cash in. I've got to imagine that's what Boudreau is saying in the room right now.
--Update, 19:00 second period: Ovechkin's first shot on goal of the game is, in fact, a goal. Assist by Arnott. So Boudreua's changes pay immediate dividends.
I actually missed the goal because I was watching Green, who was knocked down behind the play with a glancing blow. He stayed down for a second before joining the goal celebration in the corner.
--Update, 17:30 second period: It took almost two periods, but it looks like Boudreau is shaking up the lines. Backstrom just skated between Laich and Semin. Meantime, Arnott is centering Ovechkin and Knuble. That is one big line.
--Update, 10:41 second period: Another penalty for Caps. Hannan for holding. Ovi in box for another 9 seconds. Caps have taken six penalties in just more than half a game. Can't win doing that.
--Update, 8:50 second period: Caps to penalty kill again. Ovechkin hook on Gaborik. Reached in with his stick and hit the glove. Apparently, he's not following my live blog or he wouldn't have done that.
--Update, 5:30 second period: Caps go to penalty kill again -- Carlson to the box for cross checking -- and Neuvirth gets beat. Christensen sneaked a shot from a tight angle over his shoulder. It was a GREAT bit of marksmanship, but I bet Neuvirth won't be happy about it.
--Update, 3:44 second period: I didn't time the length of the delay for the referee change -- Frederick L'Ecuyer will replace in the injured Chris Rooney -- but it took so long, both benches emptied so the players could skate around and stay loose.
--Update, 3:46 second period: Game delayed for injured ref, Chris Rooney, who tripped over the net. Rangers fan behind me buried head in hands, then yells, "Get him off the ice!"
Earlier in the game, referee Tim Peel got hit on leg by dump in. Rough day to be in stripes.
--Update, 1:44 second period: Caps to the penalty kill again. Green for hooking McDonagh. Green, Semin, repeat after me: Can't. Put. Your. Stick. On. The. Gloves. Ever.
--Update, end of first period: Other than a rare breakdown that led to a 2-on-1, and concurrent penalties to Hendricks and Knuble that gave the Rangers a 5-on-3 for 1:26 late, the Caps executed a typical opening period on the road, which is to say they went the low-risk route.
Neuvirth was outstanding, particularly on the penalty kill. (Though he got a little bit of help from a Rangers power play that is just snakebit right now. Gaborik missed the entire net from point-blank range.)
Jason Chimera, by the way, is throwing his body around. Again. He's already got four hits, a game after registering five all game. And Gordon, whom I mentioned earlier, has won four of his five draws.
The Caps will open the second period with 1:44 of the power play on a fresh sheet of ice, which is always soft and sloppy at the end of periods at Madison Square Garden. So they caught a break there.
--Update, 19:43 first period: Rangers continue to target Neuvirth. This time, the ref wasn't having it. Christensen to the box for goalie interference. Dumb.
--Update, 17:55 first period: Knuble misses glass badly on penalty kill. Now it's a 5 on 3 for Rangers. Big test for Caps, Neuvirth.
--Update, 15:01 first period: Caps to the power play. Gordon draws holding foul on Gilroy. Gordon is quietly having a solid playoffs. He entered the game winning 66.7 percent of his faceoffs, which, of course, is his specialty.
--Update, 10:00 first period: The Rangers were quoted in the NY papers saying they needed to get into Nuevirth's face. Well, they're doing just that. Gaborik, of all people, just ran over Neuvirth.
--Update, 2:52 first period: Neuvirth picks up right where he left off. Huge save on Gilroy, who was breaking in on a 2 on 1 after a rare defensive miscue by Caps. No rebound for Fedotenko.
--Update, 5 minutes until puck drop: Okay, so according to the roster report on NHL.com, Boudreau is, in fact, going to start Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble on the top line. So no line juggling. Yet, at least.
--Update, 12 minutes until puck drop: So it appears Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau will indeed stick with the same lineup as Game 2 and NOT flip centers Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Arnott, as he “accidentally” did in practice yesterday.
At least, that's how it looked to me in warmups. But these are the playoffs, and Boudreau is not above a little gamesmanship. Diehards might recall that he changed his lineup in the 2009 playoffs here between warmups and the opening faceoff. If there are any changes this time, I'll post them after the first few shifts.
Eric Fehr, D.J. King, Tyler Sloan, Sean Collins are the healthy scratches; Tom Poti (groin) and Dennis Wideman (leg hematoma) are injured.