Rangers beat Caps, 4-3, in Game 3

Washington’s power play delivered a dramatic win in Game 2. It fell short in Game 3.

The Rangers scored a 4-3 win over the Capitals Monday night at Madison Square Garden, thwarting a late Capitals power play to hold on and trim Washington’s lead to 2-1 in this Eastern Conference quarterfinals series. Center Derek Stepan scored the game winner 13 minutes, 35 seconds into the third period off a nice set up from winger Rick Nash.

Washington got goals from Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Jay Beagle, but the Capitals couldn’t muster a shot on goal during a power play that spanned the final one minute, 54 seconds of regulation and featured a two-man advantage with goalie Braden Holtby pulled. The Rangers, you’ll remember, failed to register a shot on goal during their power play in overtime of Game 2.

Washington was done in partly by six penalties in the game’s first two periods, and its defensemen seemed to have more trouble clearing the zone Monday that they had in the first two games of this series. Game 4 will take place Wednesday night in New York.

Neil’s take:

Washington dominated puck possession (57 even-strength shot attempts to New York’s 34) with Mike Green leading all skaters with a plus-14 Corsi.

Caps had just one shot on the power-play. They also had more giveaways (1), misses (1) and shots that were blocked (2) than shots on goal (0) during the 1:54 of 6-on-4 to end the game.

Bright side: the team with home ice advantage during the Conference Quarter-Finals has a 42-50 (.457) record in Game 4 and are 64-28 in the series when they have a 2-1 lead.

Game-over Green does it again; Caps win, 1-0, in overtime

Via @washingtoncaps on Instagram Via @washingtoncaps on Instagram


With Ryan McDonagh in the penalty box after firing a shot over the glass, Mike Green did what he does best, scoring eight minutes into overtime to give the Caps a 2-0 series lead.

Braden Holtby, meantime, was perfect, stopping all 24 Rangers shots for his first NHL playoff shutout.

We’re wrapping up the live blog, but we’ll have much more on the game to come soon. Thanks for joining us, and be sure to tune in again when the series shifts to New York on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Nicklas Backstrom fancy stat star of the game

The New York Rangers were 4-5 all time in playoff overtime games against Washington (including a pair of wins last year) but the Capitals secured a victory in today’s overtime tilt.  And it is a big win for Washington: when the team with home ice advantage wins the first two games in round one they have won 91.3 percent of the series (63-6).

It was also a physical matchup today. Both teams were credited with a combined102 hits thru regulation and added another six in the extra frame. Last time Washington and the Rangers clashed in the regular season there was 74 (March 24, 2013) and we saw 73 in Game 1.

Fancy stat star of the game: Nicklas Backstrom. The center was on the ice for 25 even-strength shot attempts and just five against.


We’re headed to overtime

Well, after 60 minutes and no goals we’re headed to overtime here at the Verizon Center.

Both the Capitals and Rangers generated great scoring chances late. Jason Chimera was stoned by Henrik Lundqvist off a nice pass from defenseman Steve Oleksy. Minutes later, Rick Nash skated in free on Braden Holtby and hit the post with a shot.

So we’ve officially arrived in “next goal wins” territory.

Neil’s take:

Karl Alzner and Mike Green spent two-thirds of their even-strength time on ice keeping Rick Nash to two scoring chances and Brad Richards to just one in regulation.

After a strong Game 1, Chimera, Fehr and Perreault have just two shots on net, including a great chance by Chimera late in the third period.

Washington have killed 27 of their last 29 penalties. Holtby now has a .862 save percentage on the penalty kill this season.

Rick Nash hits post

New York just had its best scoring chance since the first period as winger Rick Nash skated through two Caps defenders for a point blank look in front of Braden Holtby. But his shot hit the post, the second time today the Rangers have drawn iron. Caps forward Troy Brouwer was called for a penalty trying to slow down Nash, but Washington’s penalty kill was to the task. Less than two minutes to play in regulation. Still scoreless.

Can Washington keep their penalty kill hot?

Washington yielded the second most power-play shots per two minutes when on the penalty kill (almost two per instance) but has started to improve of late. They ended the regular season killing 21 of 23 of the times they were shorthanded but also killed all four they faced on Thursday night, blocking six shots in the process. The Capitals only managed six or more blocked shots on the penalty kill in six games this season, including a season high nine against Toronto on January 31.

The boys in red have killed the only power-play they have faced today.





Lundqvist stones Chimera

A few minutes after Caps forward Marcus Johansson tried to get too cute passing with Nicklas Backstrom on a 2 on 1, Washington got perhaps its best chance of the afternoon courtesy of two unlikely players.

Defenseman Steve Oleksy skated wide into New York’s zone and towards the goal line before connecting on a centering pass to a streaking Jason Chimera . But Chimera’s shot was no match for Henrik Lundvist. He now has 30 saves and counting. About 6 minutes to go in the third period. Still scoreless.

Rangers change up lines

The Rangers have gone about 90 minutes of game action since scoring during the first period of Game 1, and it appears Coach John Tortorella has tinkered with his lines to begin the third period of Game 2. Most notably, he has moved Rick Nash up to the top line along with Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan.

Here’s what the lines look like to me:


Haven’t seen New York’s fourth line (Asham, Boyle, Powe) on the ice yet in this third period. Still 0-0 with 11:55 to go in regulation.

Washington can’t let Richards heat up

(Getty Images)

Brad Richards ended the regular season on fire, scoring six goals in April – more than he scored in January, February, and March combined. But the former Conn Smythe winner is on a seven-game postseason run without a tally. His last playoff goal? Game 7 against Washington, which helped propel New York into the second round last year.

Richards was kept to just one shot in 22:14 Thursday night, but he already has five shot attempts against Washington (four on net, one miss).  His shooting percentage was 12.8 percent in games where he had four or more shots, including a hat trick against Buffalo in April.


If Caps-Rangers goes to OT…

NBC is broadcasting the Kentucky Derby later today, and they apparently have a contingency plan in place if this Caps-Rangers Game 2 remains tied after the third period.


Caps and Rangers enter third period in scoreless tie

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post) (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The Capitals controlled much of the play in the second period, although it has been a fairly uneventful afternoon. Entering the third period, we’ve seen just two combined power plays and no goals over 40 minutes.

Washington’s best opportunity to score came early on in the second period when Marcus Johansson was set up right in front of the net by a beautiful pass from Alex Ovechkin. But Johansson couldn’t lift the puck over Rangers goalie Henrik Lundvist. Near the end of the second period, Ovechkin pulled off a nearly identical pass to center Nicklas Backstrom but Backstrom’s chip shot sailed wide of the net.

Lundqvist has been the difference maker for New York, stopping all 25 shots he has faced. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has been no slouch, but Washington’s defense has done a nice job ensuring the Rangers point plank looks have been few and far between.

Neil’s take:

Captain Ryan Callahan doing it all for New York: six shot attempts and seven hits plus time on the power play (1:18) and penalty kill (1:07).

Nicklas Backstrom has been on the ice for 17 even-strength attempts at net but just four against. However, the best differential on the team belongs to John Carlson, who is a plus-15 (20 for, 5 against).

Speaking of Carlson, along with Ovechkin they have combined for 12 of the Capitals 25 shots on goal.

Ribeiro can’t convert breakout

The Capitals just executed a nice breakout following a TV timeout, with center Mike Ribeiro and wing Troy Brouwer embarking on a 2-on-1 against New York’s Michael Del Zotto. But Ribeiro couldn’t get a good angle to deliver a pass and ended up holding the puck until Lundqvist stopped his wrist shot attempt. Still no goals as we close in on the end of the second period.

Ovechkin can pass too

Oveckin’s sensational pass to Johansson should surprise no one, but his improved vison continues to be the most underrated part of his game. Ovechkin had 13 primary assists during the regular season in just 48 games. He had 12 in the 82-game campaign of 2011-12.

MoJo can’t put it home

We just had an extended amount of 4 on 4 play here at Verizon Center and the extra ice gave Alex Ovechkin plenty of room to work with. He fired a beautiful shot pass to wing Marcus Johansson, who was directly in front of a sprawling Henrik Lundqvist. But after holding the puck for a moment, Johansson wasn’t able to lift it over Lundqvist, a sequence that drew some groans from the crowd. Still scoreless with 12:39 to go in the second period.

It’s too loud for TV at Verizon Center

If you weren’t already aware, Game 2 is being broadcast nationally on NBC. And according to a Verizon Center employee, the folks at the Peacock aren’t very happy about the noise in here.


Caps and Rangers scoreless after first period

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)


The hostilities are rising here at Verizon Center, but we’ve still got a scoreless tie between the Capitals and Rangers in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinals series.

Washington started off slowly Saturday, allowing New York to dictate the pace early on. A turnover by Capitals defenseman John Carlson allowed Anton Stralman to fire a shot past Holtby in the game’s opening five minutes. But the puck hit the crossbar and Holtby was steady from there.

Ovechkin got things going for the Caps with a strong shift after a strong penalty kill against New York’s power play, and his teammates followed suit. A late Washington power play seemed to open the floodgates, and the Capitals began peppering Lundqvist late.

The best chance came just after the man advantage expired, when winger Joel Ward fed Matthieu Perreault with a beautiful pass in front of the Rangers net. But Lundvist thwarted Perreault’s subsequent chip to keep Washington off the board. Lundqvist looks sharp, with 12 saves and excellent rebound control.

Neil’s take:

Washington is on pace for over 30 shots. When Ludqvist faced over 30 shots in a game this past regular season he was 5-5-1 with a .937 Sv%.

Taylor Pyatt, Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett were tasked briefly with stopping Ovechkin. They had a pair of giveaways in ten seconds. Don’t think New York head coach Torterella will continue that matchup too often.

Steve Oleksy’s face at it again

The legend of Steve Oleksy grows …

The diminutive defenseman just delivered Washington its first power play of the afternoon after Rangers forward Derek Dorsett hit him in the face with a stick. Just add it to the list of wounds for Oleksy, who took a puck to the face in Game 1.

Boyle improves the Rangers’ penalty kill

Brian Boyle skated 1:53 a night with the Ranger’s penalty killing unit and was a big part in keeping the opposing power play out of the dangerous parts of the ice.

When he skated, just 20 of the 55 shots against were within 20 feet of the goal, and only three of those were rebounds.

Ovechkin makes presence felt

Just as I published out that last post about Washington’s sluggish start, captain Alex Ovechkin tried to rectify the situation. After the Capitals penalty kill, he ignited the Verizon Center crowd with a strong and active shift. Ovechkin fired two shots on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and delivered a jarring hit to New York forward Carl Hagelin. Still no score with 11:36 to go in the first period.

Caps off to sluggish start

Rangers Coach John Tortorella said he wanted to play a more “territorial” game Saturday and so far his team, is delivering. New York is buzzing around Washington’s net and defenseman Anton Stralman hit the crossbar with a shot following a turnover by John Carlson.

New York just wrapped up its first power play of the game after Troy Brouwer was called for interference on Ryan Callahan. It appeared to be in retaliation for a hit Callahan delivered on Mike Green near the Rangers bench. The good news is Caps goalie Braden Holtby made several nice saves to end the man advantage. Back at even strength.

Chimera chipping in secondary scoring

The third line of Jason Chimera, Mathieu Perreault and Eric Fehr, scored six even-goals on 63 shots during the regular season while being on the ice for just one goal against. The same trio accounted for a dozen shot attempts Thursday night in game one, including a goal by Chimera off a turnover created by Mathieu Perreault.

If the Capitals can get offense from the top lines and the bottom six, it is going to be extremely difficult for opposing teams to neutralize this Washington offense. Even with an elite-level goaltender like Henrik Lundqvist in net.

Game 2 is underway

(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)


The puck has been dropped for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. Will the Capitals head up to New York with a commanding 2-0 series lead? Or will a tweaked lineup allow the Rangers to even things up this afternoon at Verizon Center?

Should be an exciting few hours of hockey here in Chinatown. Stay tuned for plenty of updates and analysis.

Expect less power plays for Washington

Game one referee Chris Rooney had called the most “physical” penalties (roughing, cross checking, slashing, etc.) per game during the regular season — over four per game — with almost half of those being awarded to the home team.

Tonight’s referees are Eric Furlatt and Francois St. Laurent.

Lineups for Game 2

Based on warmups here’s what the lineups should look like for Game 2:



Goal: Holtby, Neuvirth
Scratches: Brooks Laich (groin), Aaron Volpatti, Wojtek Wolski, Jeff Schultz and Tom Poti


Del Zotto-Eminger

Goal: Lundqvist, Biron.
Scratches: Marc Staal (eye), Ryane Clowe (undisclosed), Chris Kreider, Kris Newbury, Roman Hamrlik, Micheal Haley.

Return of Boyle, Dorsett for Rangers won’t change the Capitals’ game plan

New York will receive some reinforcements for Game 2 as center Brian Boyle returns after missing six games with a knee injury and winger Derek Dorsett makes his Rangers debut.

They will replace Chris Kreider and Kris Newbury in the Rangers’ lineup, which will still be without winger Ryane Clowe and defenseman Marc Staal.

Boyle always seems to play well against Washington and his size – 6 foot 7, 224 pounds – alone can alter any play on the ice. So it will be interesting to see if he can make much of an impact even in a limited role on the fourth line, which is where Boyle took rushes during warmups.

“He’s very good at faceoffs. He’s a big, strong man,” Matt Hendricks said of Boyle, who had a 48.5 percent success rate on draws this season. “I think he does his homework on us. He sees our tendencies; he knows how to beat us on draws. He’s very good there, he’s very good down low. He’s a big, big man and he’s phyiscal and when the puck’s on his stick and they’re in their cycle it’s hard to knock him off the puck.”

Dorsett, who was part of the deadline-day trade that sent Marian Gaborik to Columbus, will play his first game after missing eight weeks with a broken clavicle and took rushes on the Rangers’ third line.

Even with the new faces in the mix for New York, don’t expect much different from the Capitals.

“It might change a matchup, but it’s not going to change the way we play. It’s not going to change the way they play,” Coach Adam Oates said. “Obviously every team wants all their guys in. They get some guys in the lineup. We know the way they play, and we have to be prepared for that.”

Stopping Rick Nash

Caps defensemen Karl Alzner and Mike Green must continue to keep Rangers star Rick Nash off the score sheet. (AP)

Rick Nash logged 23 minutes 4 seconds during game one and led all skaters with eight shots on goal plus launched another three that missed the net completely. None got by Washington netminder Braden Holtby.

A lot of that has to do with the defensive work of Mike Green and Karl Alzner, who spent nearly two-thirds of their time on ice during even-strength shadowing the Rangers’ leading goal scorer. As you can see in the shot tracker below, Nash had just two shots in the slot with the rest being kept to the face off dots or beyond.

If the Capitals are going to win game two they will need Green to continue to keep Nash from shooting from the dangerous area and off the score sheet.

Boyle and Dorsett taking part in pregame warmups for Rangers

New York Rangers forwards Brian Boyle (right leg) and Derek Dorsett (broken clavicle) are both on the ice and in uniform for pregame warmups here at Verizon Center. Forward Ryane Clowe and defenseman Marc Staal are not.

Boyle, 28, hasn’t played since April 16. He has two goals and three assists in 38 games this season. Dorsett was part of the Marian Gaborik deal at the trade deadline and hasn’t played for the Rangers since arriving from Columbus last month. He has three goals and six assists in 24 games.

What will the Rangers lineup look like?

Lots of pregame speculation about what New York’s Game 2 lineup will look like today at Verizon Center. The Rangers cancelled Coach John Tortorella’s availability before faceoff since he wasn’t willing to discuss the plethora of injured players that could return anyways.

Forwards Ryane Clowe, Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett, as well as defenseman Marc Staal all skated during Friday’s practice and Tortorella said afterwards that conditioning would not necessarily factor into his decision to bring any player back. The guess here is New York has at least two new faces in the lineup for Game 2.

The Rangers and Capitals are about to hit the ice, so we’ll let you know which players are out there.

Greetings from Verizon Center

In about an hour, the Caps and Rangers will face off for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Puck drop is set for 12:30 p.m., and you can watch the game on NBC.

A few game notes, courtesy of the Caps:

— Since 2006, teams that have won Game 1 of the first round are 38-18 (.679) in those series. The Capitals enter today’s contest with an 18-18 record in Game 2’s. They have gone 11-9 on home ice.

— Braden Holtby stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced in Game 1 for his eighth career playoff win. Holtby currently ranks fifth in Capitals franchise history in playoff wins. In his 15 career postseason games, Holtby has not lost in back-to-back contests. He owns a 2-0 record with a 1.26 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage in two career Game 2’s (1-0 vs. NYR).

— Alex Ovechkin has posted a 1.15 points-per-game average since his first NHL postseason in 2008, tied for the third-highest among all active players (min. 20 games played). His .60 goals per game ranks second in the league in that span.

Mark Giannotto and Neil Greenberg will be your hosts today. Stay tuned for lots of updates, analysis and, of course, #fancystats.