Fancy stat wrap-up, plus a silver lining

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Derick Brassard, who hasn’t skated in a playoff game since 2008 when he was with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, had two assists tonight and has five points in four playoff games for New York.

Washington’s Joel Ward had a plus-15 shot attempt differential, including creating six shot attempts of his own.

Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh kept Ovechkin to just one shot on goal. When Washington had first change they shared 54 percent of their ice time. It was 85 percent tonight. It matters:

Since the league went to a conference, rather than division-based seven-game system (1994), a majority of the teams that won the Cup dispatched their opponent in six games.

First-round result Teams
Sweep 3
Won in 5 5
Won in 6 8
Won in 7 1

Rangers even series with Washington after 4-3 victory in Game 4

New York has evened its Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Washington Capitals at two games apiece after a 4-3 victory in Game 4 Wednesday night. Rangers center Derek Stepan score the game-winning goal off a turnover by the Capitals’ top line.

Washington got goals from center Mathieu Perreault, Troy Brouwer and Karl Alzner. Every game in this series has now been decided by one goal. Game 5 will be Friday night back at Verizon Center.

Many will want to blame goalie Braden Holtby’s gaffe on New York’s first goal of the night given the stakes, and perhaps it’s warranted. But the Capitals top scorers during the regular season — namely Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Ribeiro — were largely non factors for two games in New York.

Though Troy Brouwer did net a pretty backhanded goal, Washington’s best forwards in Game 4 were Perreault and fourth line wing Joel Ward. They combined to score the Capitals first goal of the game in the second period and recorded nine combined shots on goal.

Caps still down 4-3

With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, the Capitals still trail the Rangers, 4-3. Who’s going to score the equalizer for Washington. Its top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson have combined for two shots on goal. Meanwhile, third line center Mathieu Perreault was just named player of the game by Comcast Sportsnet for a second consecutive contest.

Karl Alzner pulls Caps back to within one goal

Defenseman Karl Alzner had a far harder shot seconds earlier hit the cross bar. But an innocent wrist shot was the one that turned Game 4 into a one-goal affair once again.

A goal by Alzner has cut Washington’s deficit to 4-3 with 12 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the third period of its game with the Rangers. Alzner’s tally came 1 minutes, 19 seconds after New York took a 4-2 lead on the Capitals.

Caps top line breaks down, Rangers take 4-2 lead

A failed clear by Marcus Johansson and a costly turnover by center Nicklas Backstrom has given New York a 4-2 lead on Washington with less than 13 minutes remaining in the third period of Game 4.

After Backstrom lost the puck in scrum, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin combined for a nifty series of passes before Stepan beat a helpless Holtby six minutes, two seconds into the third period.

This is the first time all series Washington has faced a two-goal deficit.

Crash the net. No, shoot the puck.

New York leads Washington in shots 27-17, showing that maybe quantity is better than quality?

As you can see below, the Capitals are crashing the net while the Blueshirts are being kept (mostly) out of the slot. New York leads 3-2 early in the third period.

Dan Girardi gives Rangers a 3-2 lead

The tie didn’t last for long. Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi scored a power play goal on a slapshot 59 seconds into the third period to give New York a 3-2 lead. It’s the Rangers second goal on the man advantage in as many games (three if you include Brian Boyle’s goal just after a power play expired during Game 3).

Caps start 3rd period on penalty kill

The Capitals have clawed their back in to Game 4, but they’ll have to fend off a New York Rangers power play to begin the third period. Forward Jason Chimera was called for  interference on New York defenseman Anton Stralman at the buzzer. Caps are up to 10 penalties the last two games, although this latest one seemed questionable.

Caps tie score at 2 entering third period

The Rangers controlled much of the first 30 minutes Wednesday night, but Washington has grabbed the momentum back entering the third period.

Troy Brouwer scored with 17 seconds remaining in the second period to tie Game 4 between Washington and New York at two. Brouwer split Rangers forward Derek Stepan and defenseman Anton Stralman and backhanded a shot that beat New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist short side.

A little more than ten minutes into the second period, Rangers winger Carl Hagelin delivered New York a 2-0 lead when he fired a one timer past Washington netminder Braden Holtby. The Rangers have dominated on faceoffs and are currently out-shooting the Capitals, 29-16.

But Matthieu Perreault got Washington on the board, scoring his first career playoff goal off a strong move by Joel Ward a little more than 13 minutes into the second period. That seemed to steady the Capitals aside from a late charge by Ryan Callahan’s line, and Brouwer tied things up before the buzzer.

Neil’s take:

Rangers had 13 shots in the second period. Capitals have 15 shots in the game.

Four Caps have had more than one of their shots blocked: Mike Green (4), Ovechkin (3), Fehr (2) and Backstrom (2).

Ovechkin played four even-strength minutes in the first period and almost eight in the second but still can get away from the Girardi-McDonagh pairing (83 percent of minutes shared).

Caps cut deficit in half, trail Rangers 2-1

Center Mathieu Perreault had been one of the few bright spots for the Washington Capitals through 30 minutes of Game 4 and his strong play was rewarded when the Capitals needed a goal desperately.

After a powerful move to the net by winger Joel Ward was thwarted by the paddle of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Perreault fired the rebound past Lundqvist to cut Washington’s deficit in half 13 minutes, eight seconds into the second period. New York now leads the Capitals, 2-1.

Rangers take a 2-0 lead on Caps

The Rangers kept pressing and pressing to begin the second period, forcing Braden Holtby to come up with several notable saves. New York finally broke through.

Forward Carl Hagelin gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead over the Capitals in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Forward Derek Brassard fed Hagelin for a bouncing one timer that beat Holtby’s glove 10 minutes, 13 seconds into the second period.

New York is out shooting (21-8) and out-hitting (23-11) Washington by wide margins halfway through this one. The Rangers have also dominated faceoffs (17-8).

Puck possession in New York’s favor

Washington has just five shots on net during even-strength — one in the second period — while New York has 13 total.

Eric Fehr (plus-2) and Mathieu Perreault (plus-5) are the only Washington skaters who are in the black for shot attempt differential.

Defenseman John Moore leads New York with a plus-7.

Holtby’s glove side

Maybe the Rangers know something we don’t?

All four of New York’s goals in Game 3 were on Holtby’s glove side. Tonight, they have taken six of their thirteen shots from the same spot.

Caps move Fehr up to 2nd line for injured Erat

With Martin Erat injured, Caps Coach Adam Oates elected to use Eric Fehr on the Mike Ribeiro line. It breaks up Washington’s most successful line during the first period. The Capitals are calling Erat’s ailment an upper body injury — he was grabbing his left arm — and he is questionable to return.

New York is really taking it to Washington right now, but Braden Holtby is making up for his mistake on the Rangers goal. He just stopped Derek Stepan on a break away.

Rangers lead Caps 1-0 after 1st period

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)


The Rangers have a 1-0 lead on the Caps after a wild sequence to end the first period of Game 4.

After a turnover by goalie Braden Holtby, Rangers center Brad Richards scored on a rebound to give New York an early advantage 16 minutes, 25 seconds into the contest. Less than two minutes later, Washington saw New York go on a 5 on 3 to end the first period after simultaneous penalties called on Alex Ovechkin (charging) and Martin Erat (hooking). The Rangers have 26 seconds with a two man advantage to start the second period.

Ovechkin looked like the freight-train-on-ice of his younger days on the play, but not sure about double minors there. Take a look.

Neil’s take:

Washington’s third line (Chimera-Perreault-Fehr) continues to do well. They have been on the ice for four shots and just a missed attempt against.

Ovechkin spent 4:13 in the first during even-strength, all of it facing Girardi and McDonagh – and that includes Oates doubling shifting him with Beagle’s line. Ovi has four shot attempts: one on net and three others blocked.

The Blueshirts continue to pepper Holtby on his glove side: six of their 13 shots are from within the circle on his left.


Martin Erat injured after Ovechkin hit, and both called for penalties

Capitals forward Martin Erat appeared to injure his left arm after a hit by Alex Ovechkin that also involved Rangers center Derek Stepan. Officials called the Capitals with two penalties, one on Ovechkin for charging and another on Erat for hooking. Caps are two men down to close the first period.

Power-play puck luck’ coming for New York

The Washington Capitals marched into the playoffs with the league’s best power-play unit, converting on 26.8 percent of their opportunities. The Rangers limped in with theirs, finishing 23rd out of 30 teams (15.7 percent) and 4 of 37 in their final 10 games.

Despite the regular season disparity, they have generated similar shot rates in the series’ first three games.

Team Ops/gm Sh/op Sh/2min Sh%
WSH 3.9 1.2 1.5 11.6%
NYR 4.0 1.1 1.2 4.5%

The big difference is in the puck luck. Washington has finished one out of every nine shots while New York has struggled to convert one out of every 22.

New York is also spreading the offense around, with 10 skaters putting at least on power-play shot on net compared to Washington’s five through first three games.

New York Goals Shots
Brassard 1 4
Boyle 1 1
Richards 0 4
Nash 0 3
Moore 0 3
Girardi 0 3
Zuccarello 0 1
Callahan 0 1
Stepan 0 1
Pyatt 0 1
Washington Goals Shots
Ovechkin 1 5
Green 1 3
Brouwer 0 4
Backstrom 0 1
Fehr 0 1

Both teams are below their regular season averages, but expect New York, who has three shots on the power play so far in Game 4, to gravitate to the 11.6 percent they posted during the short season sooner rather than later.

Holtby gaffe leads to Rangers goal

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)


Braden Holtby left his crease because icing had been wiped out. He probably regrets that decision now. Holtby tried to fling a clearing pass through the middle of Washington’s defensive zone, but it was was intercepted by New York’s Taylor Pyatt.

He fed Carl Hagelin, and after his shot bounced off Caps defenseman John Carlson, Rangers center Brad Richards pounced on the puck and scored his first goal of the playoffs to give New York a 1-0 lead.

Washington’s Matt Hendricks drew a penalty soon thereafter, but the Caps power play gave up several shorthanded chances.

Scoreless, so here’s some numbers

With a little more than five minutes remaining in the first period, neither the Capitals nor Rangers have lit the lamp yet. But New York is leading in hits (13-6), faceoffs (9-3) and blocked shots (7-4). Washington’s best player thus far has been Matthieu Perreault. He’s been all over the ice, creating several scoring chances.


Caps get first power play

After taking six penalties in less than two periods in Game 3, the Capitals have the first power play of Game 4 after a tripping penalty on Rangers forward Derek Dorsett with 13:25 to go in the first period. Thus far, New York’s forecheck has given Washington some issues, but the Ribeiro and Perreault lines have both had strong shifts.

Uno seis in New York’s face

(Bruce Bennett/Getty)

Coming into the series, New York was the better puck possession squad. Ignoring special-teams play and lead-protecting situations, the Capitals had possession of the puck just 47.7 percent of the time this season, worst among playoff teams with the exception of Toronto (43.8 percent). Blueshirts checked in at 54 percent, fifth best in league. But despite the Rangers’ regular season success, Washington got the better of the Blueshirts in Game 3, posting a plus-14 even-strength shot differential. Of course, that is little consolation to a team that lost 4-3, but it does show that what was once thought a weakness is less and less so as the games go on, even when New York has last change due to home ice.

Of particular note was the play of Eric Fehr, who was on the ice for five scoring chances (none against), 12 shot attempts (just one against, a miss) in 7:23 of even-strength time.

Head coach Adam Oates is also giving him more responsibility. During the regular season, Fehr averaged 43 seconds a game on the penalty kill; through the first three games of this series he has logged 2:15.

Fehr has helped drive puck possession this series, but so has his third line mates Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perreault. The trio has combined for 18 shots-for and just nine against when they have skated 5-on-5 in this series. Fehr and Chimera also have the first shots of Game 4.

Fancy take on Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger pairing

Michael Del Zotto and Steve Eminger spent over 125 even-strength minutes together this season and the Rangers had possession of the puck 51.5 percent of the time. They were on the ice for less than a half a goal against per 60 minutes of play.

Game 4 is underway

The puck has dropped on Game 4 between the Capitals and Rangers up at Madison Square Garden. New York is looking to even up the series. Washington would like to come back to Verizon Center with a chance to advance Friday night.

Stay tuned here for plenty of updates …

Four score and eight shots ago

Game 3 marked just the fifth time this season the New York Rangers got goals from four different skaters – all have resulted in wins for the Blueshirts.

The Rangers did a great job crashing the net and winning the battles in the offensive zone Monday night, generating most of their offense down low and to Holtby’s glove side.

It is also worth noting Washington hasn’t scored from below the faceoff dots since Alex Ovechkin scored a power-play goal in the second period of Game 1.

Game 4 lineups: No Marc Staal for Rangers

Once again, the Rangers had some pregame lineup surprises. As expected, forward Ryan Clowe is back, but New York will be without defenseman Marc Staal.

After playing for the first time since March 5 in Game 3, it appears Staal had a setback in his recovery from a right eye injury. Former Capitals blueliner Steve Eminger, who played in Games 1 and 2, will take Staal’s place in the Rangers lineup.

Washington’s lineup remains the same. Here’s what the lines should look like:

Martin Erat-Mike Ribeiro-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Matthieu Perreault-Eric Fehr
Matt Hendricks-Jay Beagle-Joel Ward

Karl Alzner-Mike Green
John Erskine-John Carlson
Jack Hillen-Steve Oleksy

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


Rick Nash-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan
Brian Boyle-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarrello
Taylor Pyatt-Brad Richards-Carl Hagelin
Ryane Clowe-Derek Dorsett-Arron Asham

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
John Moore-Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger

Goal: Lundqvist, Biron.
Scratches: Darroll Powe (head), Marc Staal (eye), Chris Kreider, Kris Newbury, Roman Hamrlik, Micheal Haley.

Rangers fans eat their way to Game 4 tickets

Are free playoff tickets really worth it if you feel like you’re gonna hurl the whole game? (The answer is yes.)

‘Tired’ Ovechkin outplaying McDonagh and Girardi

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Maybe Alex Ovechkin was tired toward the end of the third period before the Ranger’s scored the game-winning goal, but that’s about all that has been able to stop the dynamic winger from creating offense in this series.

Despite facing the Rangers’ top defensive pair of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh 59.4 percent of the time during even-strength, The Great Eight has 14 shots in the three games and has been on the ice for 19 total while yielding just 15.

Storylines for Game 4: Penalties and Ryan Clowe

Welcome back for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers, a pivotal matchup with the Capitals leading 2-1.  Aside from Alex Ovechkin and Ryan McDonagh’s new fitness feud (Neil will address this later), here’s a couple things to keep an eye on as pregame continues …

Ryane Clowe: After welcoming back center Brian Boyle, forward Derek Dorsett and defenseman Marc Staal the past two games, the Rangers should have another new face in the lineup for Game 4. Forward Ryane Clowe, out since April 25, could take the place of injured forward Darroll Powe, who appeared to suffer a head injury early on during Game 3. Clowe has 45 points (18 goals, 27 assists) in 68 career playoff games with the San Jose Sharks.

Stay out of the box: Katie Carrera wrote extensively about this in today’s paper after Washington took six penalties in about 27 minutes during Game 3. The Caps, who were penalty-prone at the start of this lockout-shortened season, were shorthanded six or more times just once after Feb. 21. Game 3 was the most penalties Washington had taken since March 9. By the way, the Capitals were 0-5-1 in games this year in which they took six or more penalties. So safe to say staying out of the box will be the theme tonight.

Caps look to go up 3-1 in series with Rangers

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)


The Caps are looking to put a little more distance between themselves and the Rangers when Game 4 gets underway tonight at Madison Square Garden. Washington went up 2-0 in this first-round series but let Game 3 slip away, thanks in large part to a rash of penalties.

Some Caps Game 4 history, courtesy of today’s team-provided game notes: Washington has gone 18-16 all-time in Game 4s, 10-6 when leading the series 2-1. The Capitals have gone 4-1 in their last five Game 4s, 2-1 on the road, and 5-2 against the Rangers in Game 4s overall.

Mark Giannotto and Neil Greenberg will be your hosts again tonight. Stay tuned from more leading up to puck drop at 7:30.

Caps vs. Rangers, Game 2: Washington wins, 1-0, in OT