Empty net for Washington

Trailing 1-0 in the third, Washington coach Adam Oates opts to put six skaters on the ice with 1:30 left.

Lundqvist has saved all 24 shots he has faced tonight.



Caps take their fifth penalty and kill it

New York headed to the power play again after Mike Green hit Dereck Dorsett up high and got called for a cross check penalty at 13:46 of the third but the Blueshirts failed to convert.

With five penalties to kill already, you have to start to worrying about Washington’s discipline, or lack thereof. The Caps took six or more penalties seven times in the regular season and playoffs combined. They lost all seven of those games.

Washington kills its fourth penalty

Washington, more specifically, Branden Holtby, continues to keep New York off the score sheet during a power play.

It could be argued Washington had the best chance in those two minutes, with Troy Brouwer missing the net during a 2-on-1. New York’s captain Ryan Callahan would lead the Rangers back the other way before having his snap shot stonewalled by Holtby.

Rangers lead 1-0 with 11:32 remaining in regulation.

Rangers back to the power play

The Rangers have had trouble converting on their power plays, but they get their fourth crack at it today after forward Joel Ward was called for cross-checkin Dereick Dorsett.

Washington managed to kill off all three of their first period penalties without incident, including a 44 second 5-on-3 advantage for New York.

Girardi slow to get up after Ovechkin hit

Third times a charm.

Ovechkin’s third hit of the night – a bone crusher – is on Dan Girardi, causing the Blueshirt blueliner to take a few seconds before getting up.

Ovechkin has had a monster stat line so far: 10 shot attempts, three hits and two blocked shots in 13:56. Can a goal be far behind?

Rangers’ goal officially changed to Brassard

Derick Brassard has been credited with New York’s first goal of the game, with assists from John Moore and Mats Zuccarello.

Brassard, acquired from Columbus near the trading deadline, has been New York’s most valuable player for so far, leading the team in points with two goals and four assists.

Rangers hold 1-0 lead after 2nd period



The Rangers continue to dominate the shot tracker, taking 10 of the 16 shots in the second frame and leading 22-14 overall. Some of that could be fatigue setting in on Washington, who have skated 5:16 on the penalty kill.

Braden Holtby was great that period, stopping all 10 of New York’s shots, including a big poke check on Rick Nash’s scoring chance with 25 seconds left to play in the period.

Puck possession starts in the faceoff circle, and New York has won 67 percent of the draws so far, with Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan combining to win 15 of their 21 draws.

Speaking of puck possession, Tortorella’s checking line of Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt and Derek Dorsett have been on the ice for eight even-strength shots for and just four against.


Alex Ovechkin blocking shots

Here’s Alex Ovechkin laying out to block a shot. Because it’s the Cup, etc.

And another one:

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Rangers strike first, 1-0

Holtby had to contend with a bunch blue jerseys in his crease midway through the second period, but despite the flurry of action for the Rangers’ third line, they managed just one shot on goal.

Then Rick Nash would score on a shot from the point with traffic in front at 9:39, deflecting it off the left hand of Washington’s Steve Oleksy on the way into the net. Assists credited to Derick Brassard and John Moore.


New York fans know how to heckle

Via Dan Steinberg:

New York Fan heckles Capitals and/or referee

Fans want New York to “shoot the puck”

Ranger fans at MSG are not happy with all the passing being done, so the chanting of “shoot the puck” begins.

New York is leading Washington in shots 12-9, with all but two being even remotely dangerous for Braden Holtby.

Capitals 2013 playoffs shot tracker – Game 6, second period

End to end action to start the second

Barely a minute into the second period, Washington got two good chances on Henrik Lundqvist, including a 2-on-1 shot by Marcus Johansson.

New York would charge right back at the other end of the ice with Carl Hagelin’s tip-in stopped by Braden Holtby.

Scoreless after first period

The Capitals started Game 6 slowly, allowing the Rangers the first four shots of the game before registering five of their own. New York’s Dan Girardi leads all skaters with four shots on net while Mike Green leads Washington with two. Washington trails New York 11-8 in shots overall.

As has been the case, New York continues to draw the lion’s share of the penalties, including having a 5-on-3 for 44 seconds in the first. The Blueshirts managed five shots on net during their time spent with the man advantage but failed to score. The Rangers are now 2-for-24 on the power play in 5 1/3 games. That includes 3:17 of 5-on-3 time in this series

Alex Ovechkin had the game’s best sequence of the game so far. After missing a wrister the winger, known for his laziness scoring, made two spectacular blocks on Ryan McDonagh in the defensive zone, including clearing the zone with the second.

Washington goes shorthanded again, and again

First, Karl Alzner went off for a delay of game at the 16 minute mark. Then, Eric Fehr is called for an elbow on Derrick Brassard 1:16 later.

New York now have 22 of the last 32 power plays in this series and will have a 5-on-3 advantage for 44 seconds.

Tom Wilson breaks his skate

Tom Wilson, who made his postseason debut in Game 5, needed help to get back to the Washington bench due to a skate blade falling off after a big hit on Ryan McDonagh.

Tom Wilson is the fifth teenager to suit up for Washington for more than one game in the postseason. The other four: Bob Carpenter, Kevin Hatcher, Scott Stevens & Yvon Corriveau.

(gif via DC Sports Nexus)

Holtby is penalty-killing unit’s best defender

Braden Holtby has now stopped 34 of the 36 (.944) shots he has faced when Washington is killing a penalty this postseason. He was .860 during the regular season.

New York managed just two shots in their first power play of the game, both by blueliner Dan Girardi.

Still scoreless with 7:00 left in first.

Early penalties continue to haunt Washington

The Rangers have nine power-play opportunities in the first period during the series and will get another one as Jack Hillen is called for roughing after he shoves Ryan Callahan in retaliation for what appeared to be a high-stick by New York’s captain.

New York has struggled on the power play (2-for-21), but being on the kill has impeded Washington from getting into a rhythm early.


Washington takes advantage of New York’s fourth line

After spotting New York the game’s first four shots, Washington roared back with the game’s next five, including three at the expense of a bad shift by Brad Richard’s fourth line.

Game is still scoreless with 12 minutes left to play in the first period.

Perreault absorbs hit from Del Zotto, needs help to bench

Mathieu Perreault took a heavy hit from Rangers’ defenseman Michael Del Zotto and needed help getting back to the bench.

Perreault, who leads Washington in points with four, remains on the bench.


Rangers test Holtby early

New York has peppered Washington netminder Braden Holtby with three shots from three different skaters (Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman and Taylor Pyatt) in the game’s first two minutes of play.

Probably not the start Capitals’ head coach Adam Oates was looking for.

Here we go

Happy Mother’s Day!

The puck has been dropped for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.

Will the Capitals be able to get off to a strong start? Will Rick Nash be a factor on the scoresheet? Will I really be watching the game?

Stay tuned for an exciting afternoon of hockey and be ready for plenty of updates and fancy stats.

History on Washington’s side

Per WhoWins:

When leading a best-of-7 NHL playoff series 3-games-2, the Washington Capitals have a 6-4 series record and a 5-5 Game 6 record. When trailing a best-of-7 NHL playoff series 3-games-2, the New York Rangers have a 2-17 series record (but a 2-2 series record in the last four such series) and a 5-14 Game 6 record.

Factoring in win order (WWLLW), the team with the 3-2 series lead and home ice advantage is 14-0 in the Conference Quarterfinals and 12-2 in Game 6.

No jinx.

An unusual start time

(Getty Images)


In addition to the pressure of a playoff game, there’s another element to Game 6 that gets both teams slightly out of their comfort zone: The unorthodox 4:30 start time. Players have their gameday routines down to such a science that playing late in the afternoon like this is a bit of an adjustment, Steve Oleksy says.

“It’s a little different,” Oleksy told Joe Beninati on Comcast SportsNet. “A lot of guys nap and stuff like that in the afternoon, and trying to balance your naptime, you’re kind of in between a breakfast and a lunch, you don’t want to eat too much, and it’s a little tough, but they have a nice setup for us so you plan accordingly and prepare for tonight’s game.”

Are Nash and Richards scapegoats?

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post) Rick Nash (61) is upended in front of the Washington Capitals’ goal

Rick Nash and Brad Richards, the Rangers’ two highest-paid forwards, have combined for one goal and one assist in the series. Your best players need to be your best players, but they have been contributing.

Nash leads the team with 19 shots on goal in the five-game series (3.8 per game). Richards has 12 shots (2.4). Their regular season averages were 4.0 and 2.4 respectively. They may not be getting the same puck luck they did in the regular season but their underlying output is the same. In fact, the probability Rick Nash would go 0-for-19 is just 7.7%.

One improvement Nash needs to make is in his playmaking. With Washington head coach Adam Oates making sure Nash is in double-coverage there hasn’t been a lot of room for him to make the pass. During the regular season the Blueshirts leading scorer also had 21 assists, nine of which were the primary pass. He has one assist this series, which came in Game 3.

Richards, on the other hand, has done well in elimination games:

However, I don’t think many of those were when playing on the fourth line, which is where Richards finds himself tonight.

Washington dominated puck possession in Game 5

(Greg Fiume/Getty)

Washington dominated puck possession in Game 5

Shot attempts were 81-67 in Washington’s favor, including a plus-27 differential during even-strength.

Capitals 2013 playoffs shot tracker – Game 5

Of the 25 shots on net the Blueshirts created, only 10 were from the dangerous parts of the ice (below the top of the faceoff circles and between the dots). Washington had 16 of their 35 shots from that area, including four of those from Alex Ovechkin.

Alex Ovechkin’s shots, Game 5

Ovechkin has gone three consecutive playoff games without a point for the first time in his career, but if he keeps getting these types of quality shots that drought will end soon.

Lineups for Game 6

Washington head coach Adam Oates will keep things exactly the same after the win in Game 6 gave them a 3-2 lead in this series. The Rangers, meanwhile, will make an adjustment. Ryane Clowe is out after being hit by Jason Chimera in Game 5 and Chris Kreider will replace him in the New York Lineup.

Here’s what the lines and pairings should look like tonight:

Washington Capitals
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Eric Fehr – Mike Ribeiro – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Mathieu Perreault – Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner – Mike Green
John Erskine – John Carlson
Jack Hillen – Steven Oleksy

Goal: Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth.

New York Rangers
Carl Hagelin – Derek Stepan – Ryan Callahan
Mats Zuccarello – Derick Brassard – Rick Nash
Taylor Pyatt – Brian Boyle – Derek Dorsett
Chris Kreider – Brad Richards – Arron Asham

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

Goal: Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Biron.


Caps ready to wrap up series

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)


The home team has won every game so far this series, but the Caps are looking to change that today at Madison Square Garden, where they face off against the Rangers with a chance to close out this Eastern Conference quarterfinal in Game 6.

One of the keys to making that happen will be getting off to a much better start than they did in Game 5, when they allowed a Rangers goal in the first minute of play.

Stay tuned for more soon from one-man blogging machine Neil Greenberg, who will be dishing out game updates AND his usual fancy stats once the puck drops at 4:30.