Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chimera Silences Garden Crowd With Winner In Second OT; Capitals Take 3-1 Series Lead

For the second time in the four games of the Eastern Quarterfinal Series between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals took overtime to decide the outcome.  The bad news for the Rangers was the outcome was the same with the Capitals getting the game on Jason Chimera’s goal 12:36 into the second overtime to give Washington the 4-3 victory.  One has to wonder if that goal was one that will silence the Garden crowd for the rest of the summer as the Capitals now have a 3-1 series lead with a chance to close it in Game 5 on Saturday in Washington. 

The utter silence of the Garden crowd as the puck went in was even more shocking when compared to the raucous nature of the crowd from the beginning of the game and especially after the Rangers took the 3-0 lead in the second.  The best chant came after that goal when the Garden had erupted with a beautiful “Can You Hear Us?” chant directed at Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.  The beauty of that chant seems so far away at this point, as does the level of noise that came with it.

The winner for the Capitals came on a breakdown between Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist as Lundqvist went to smother the puck for a whistle while Gaborik poked the loose puck away from his goaltender and to Chimera for the winner.  For many it is ironically fitting that Gaborik who has struggled so mightily to regain the form he had last season in the scoring department helped assist the Capitals in scoring the winner.  To blame Gaborik is easy at the moment, but the loss tonight is much bigger than him or any one play in the game.  

The Rangers were a perfect 29-0-0 when leading after two periods during the regular season, so blowing a three goal lead in the final period was a bigger problem than just Gaborik’s mistake in the second overtime.  If you want to truly blame something for the loss, look no further than the power play which was 0-for-7 tonight and now 1-for-18 in the series.  You cannot win in the playoffs when your power play is that anemic.
The first period was yet another scoreless first as it has been in every game of the series.  The second period saw the Rangers dominate the action while scoring three goals.  Artem Anisimov would open the scoring 5:24 into the period when he scored from behind the goal line.  Anisimov got the puck behind the net and banked it off Mark Hendricks before getting by Neuvirth.  

Marian Gaboirk extended the lead to 2-0 at 13:40 of the second.  Gaborik will get credit for the goal in the boxscore, but the goal belongs to Ruslan Fedotenko and his tremendous work from behind the net to the slot where he fired a perfect backhand pass to Gaborik for the tap-in.  The goal was Gaborik’s first of the series.
With the Garden flying from the second goal of the game, the Rangers tacked on a third seven seconds later when Brandon Dubinsky beat Neuvirth with a shot from the slot.  Once again full credit for the goal goes to Fedotenko.  Fedotenko broke in the zone off the face-off at center, shot wide, but hustled behind the net to win the puck back and fed Dubinsky for the goal.  The two goals in seven seconds was one off the team record of two goals in six seconds and two seconds off the NHL playoff record.

The Rangers outstanding second period was overshadowed by an abysmal third in which they squandered all three goals of their lead.  The Capitals came out with tremendous energy to start the third and the Rangers didn’t match it.  Alex Semin scored just 2:47 into the third on a goal in which Henrik Lundqvist attempted to cover the puck, but the whistle never blew and Semin finally stuffed it in.  There were definitely some quick whistles on the Capitals end of the ice in terms of stoppage for Neuvirth, which is fair as a comparison.  In terms of the play itself, Lundqvist never had control of the puck, so the fact there was no whistle was the right call.

Just 57 seconds after the Semin goal, Marcus Johannson brought the Capitals to within one when he was left all alone in front for the tap-in off the feed from Brooks Laich.

The worst call of the night came at 10:03 of the third when Avery was whistled for a phantom slash on Alex Ovechkin after Dubinsky was pulled down at the other end and got no call.  The Capitals did not officially convert on the call, but just four seconds after the penalty ended Washington tied the game, as Marcus Johansson deflected John Carlson's point shot by Lundqvist at 12:07.

Early in the overtime the Rangers were going to have a 2-on-0 with Dubinsky and Gaborik after a beautiful outlet pass from Ryan McDonagh, but Dubinsky was stopped by referee Paul Devorski.
Alexander Ovechkin broke in with 8:59 left in overtime only to be turned aside by the glove of Henrik Lundqvist.  Ovechkin came out at Staal on the point and when Staal’s shot attempt was blocked Ovechkin kept going leading to breakaway.