|WSH Leads Series 2 - 0|
By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Mike Green's power play goal eight minutes into overtime lifted the Washington Capitals to a 1-0 victory over the Rangers Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center. The Rangers now return home for Game Three of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series trailing 2 games to none.
After failing on their own power play opportunity 1:51 into overtime, the Rangers were beaten by the Capitals power play when Green's slap shot ticked off Derek Stepan's stick and past Henrik Lundqvist for the only goal of the game. Mike Ribeiro made a great fake on right wing to open up space before making a soft pass to Green on the game-winning goal.
Lundqvist was sensational in defeat, stopping 37 of 38 shots, but was best by Braden Holtby who notched his first career playoff shutout by stopping all 24 shots he faced.
The Rangers had a much better start to this game than they did in Thursday's series opener, buoyed largely by their extremely physical play. Taking the body at every turn, the Rangers were clearly energized by their captain Ryan Callahan, who was credited with five hits in the opening stanza---including three on one memorable shift. Playing follow the leader, the Rangers had 18 hits in the first 20 minutes.
Both Derek Dorsett and Brian Boyle returned from injury absences and added greatly to the Rangers physical play. Dorsett, in his Blueshirts debut, skated with Derick Brassard and Taylor Pyatt and was a pest throughout. He did take a high sticking penalty at 15:58 of the opening period---Washington's first and only power play in the game---and was also sent off along with Joel Ward for coindental minor penalties 5:28 into the second period.
Washington was equally as physical in Game Two with defenseman Steve Oleksy, in particular, standing out with his aggressive play. Though physical, and at times testy on the ice, the Rangers and Caps played similar hard-nosed yet clean games---the Mats Zuccarello-Mike Green post-whistle roughing minors late in the first period notwithstanding.
The Rangers had two excellent scoring chances early in the game. Anton Stralman's right wing shot hit the pipe behind Holtby at 3:50, and less than a minute later Rick Nash fed Michael Del Zotto in the slot, but his weaving backhand shot was gobbled up by Holtby.
The scoreless first period saw Washington hold a 12-7 advantage in shots; and the scoreless second period had the Capitals holding a 13-12 shots advantage. It was in that middle 20 minutes that Washington had the better of the scoring chances with Lundqvist standing out laying on his stomach to rob a wide-open Marcus Johansson at 7:21 and then shaking off Mike Ribeiro's rising left wing shot off a 2-on-1 rush seven minutes later, and following by denying Troy Brouwer on the rebound.
Lundqvist also caught a break with two minutes to play in the middle stanza when Nicklas Backstrom's shot after a Tic-Tac-Toe passing sequence with Johansson and Alex Ovechkin slid between the Ranger goalie's pads but just inches wide of the net.
As the scoreless contest entered the third period of play, Callahan provided the Rangers their best scoring opportunity to that point when he stole the puck behind Washington's net then came out in front for two quick shots which Holtby stopped with his pads four minutes into the third.
Seven minutes later Lundqvist made a sensational pad save to rob Jason Chimera's one timer from in tight, then righted himself in time to kick away a Caps rebound attempt to keep the game scoreless.
With 3:44 to play in regulation Nash came within inches of putting the Rangers on the scoreboard. Nash danced around Martin Erat and John Carlson, burst forward on left wing, but his shot hit the near post. He did draw a slashing penalty on Trou Brouwer on the play, but the Rangers power play failed to record a shot on goal during its two-minute advantage and the game headed to its overtime conclusion.
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