Over the first three games of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, the New York Rangers have made themselves quite familiar to Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Game 3 on Sunday afternoon, a 3-2 win for New York, may have featured some of the most deliberate traffic, extra shoves and yapping directed at the Washington netminder thus far, though.
Neuvirth didn’t speak to reporters after the loss, his first defeat in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but he did on Monday at KCI. The 23-year-old Czech tried to downplay any effect the Rangers might have had on his focus during the game.
“It’s all business,” Neuvirth said when asked how he handles the additional confrontation, “and, like I said, we’ve got to be ready for Wednesday.”
Easily a half-dozen times in Game 3, the Rangers came barreling through Washington’s crease, coming in to contact with Neuvirth. Several players, including Sean Avery, made sure to get a few words in to the netminder on the stops and while injured referee Chris Rooney was being tended to and Neuvirth skated out of his net toward the Capitals’ bench, Brandon Prust collided with him at center ice.
New York was whistled for goaltender interference once (Erik Christensen in the first period).
Neuvirth played coy when he was asked what Avery said to him: “The crowd was pretty loud, so I couldn’t understand.”
While Neuvirth did downplay the impact New York’s traffic and havoc had on him, he did say that he thought he would have made the initial save on the shot that led to the Rangers’ second goal of the game if it were not for a ruckus in front.
“Yeah,” Neuvirth said when asked if the traffic prevented him from trapping the puck against his chest. “I think Staal was going short-side on the blocker but I think it hit Gaborik’s stick and hit me in my elbow and, you know, Prospal’s stick, he had a wide-open net.”