|NYR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|WSH||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
Nov. 8, 2008
• PHOTO GALLERY
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
On Saturday night at the Verizon Center, the Rangers shut down the great Alex Ovechkin, but surrendered a pair of controversial goals, failed to score on a big penalty shot in the third period, and were defeated by the Washington Capitals 3-1.
The Rangers, who had one last great chance to tie the game by being awarded a power play with 2:15 remaining in the third, failed to score and have now dropped three of their last four contests.
Alexander Semin came out of the penalty box in the waning seconds, and, with Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on the bench, he fired the puck the length of the ice and into the empty net with 5.2 seconds left to put the victory on ice for Washington, which is now 5-0-1 at home this season. Semin, who entered play on Saturday second in the league in points with 19, had a goal and an assist for the Caps.
Trailing 2-0 early in the third period, the Rangers pulled within one when Aaron Voros scored a power-play goal at 6:27. Brandon Dubinsky corralled a bouncing puck at the Caps blueline and then flipped a neat pass to Voros, who was sprinting up left wing. Voros carried the puck to the left dot and fired a shot towards the net that deflected off the stick of Washington defenseman Tom Poti and between Brent Johnson’s pads for his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
“We battled back in this game and definitely had a chance to tie it,” said Lundqvist. “We never gave up. We felt like we definitely had a chance going into the third period.”
The Rangers had a golden opportunity to tie the game three minutes later when Chris Drury was awarded a penalty shot while killing a penalty. Drury intercepted a pass by Poti, the former Ranger, and broke in on Johnson, only to be hooked from behind by Ovechkin, thus being awarded the third penalty shot of his career.
Drury, coming off a hat trick Thursday against Tampa Bay, skated in and moved the puck to his backhand. But before Drury could shoot, Johnson expertly poked the puck off his stick, turning in the biggest play of the game. Johnson, terrific all evening, had 28 saves for the Caps.
“I actually thought Chris would shoot,” said Rangers head coach Tom Renney. “It was a good play by Johnson. It was an intelligent move for him and a smart goaltending play, but the way Chris has been playing, he certainly was the right guy for the penalty shot.”
Two minutes later Lundqvist made sure that the Rangers’ deficit remained one goal, when he made three incredible saves in succession on Washington’s Tomas Fleishmann. All alone in front, Fleischmann first deflected a high shot directly down, but Lundqvist showed quick reflexes and made the stop. Fleischmann then had his rebound shot denied, before firing the puck towards the open net a third time. However, Lundqvist flashed out his glove and reached behind to miraculously snare the puck before it crossed the goal line.
Lundqvist played a brilliant game, and finished with 25 saves. He played a major role in keeping Ovechkin, the league’s reigning Hart Trophy winner who scored 62 goals a year ago, off the score sheet. Ovechkin now has gone a career-high nine consecutive games without scoring a goal, though he had plenty of great chances to score on Saturday.
Indeed, at 15:47 of the first, Ovechkin thrust his arms in the air after whipping a one-timer on net from between the circles believing that he had snapped his goal-scoring drought. But Lundqvist tightly squeezed his pads together, making a magnificent save, further frustrating the Russian sniper.
Playing an extremely up-tempo, physical game, the Caps jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. However, both goals did not come without controversy.
Brooks Laich scored his third goal of the season at 9:14 when he swatted the puck out of midair and past Lundqvist for the first score of the night. Lundqvist had made a shoulder save on Semin’s rising left-wing shot, and the puck deflected high off the glass behind the net only to bounce back on top of the crossbar and hit the top of Lundqvist’s head before being batted in by Laich.
The freakish power-play goal was reviewed to make sure that the puck had indeed hit the glass and not the netting above it. Had the puck ricocheted off the netting, play would have been halted, and the goal would have been disallowed. However the video review upheld the officials’ ruling on the ice, and the Caps moved ahead 1-0.
Washington doubled its advantage at 17:06 when Poti knocked in a rebound for his first goal of the season. Boyd Gordon started the scoring play by rushing up left wing, dancing around Rangers defenseman Dmitri Kalinin, and putting a low shot on goal that was kicked away by Lundqvist. Poti, though, beat Ryan Callahan to the puck and banged in the rebound to make the score 2-0.
However, before the puck crossed the goal line, the net had been accidentally lifted off one of its pegs due to player contact. Lundqvist argued immediately that the goal should not count, and, again, another score was placed on hold during a video review. But once again video upheld the original call, and the Rangers were in a 2-0 hole.
“If the pegs are still in the holes, then the net is on its moorings and it counts,” said Rangers head Renney. “I'm not sure, looking at the replay, that the right peg was actually in the hole. It looked like it might have been over the top of it.”
Lundqvist was even more furious after the second goal because he felt play should have been stopped, and the Rangers awarded a power play, 30 seconds prior to Poti’s score. What made Lundqvist so angry is that Semin had burst in from left wing, and after missing a pass, barreled into the Rangers goalie, who was still positioned in his crease. After Lundqvist picked himself up off the ice, he charged at one of the officials to plead his case, but it was to no avail, and Semin was not penalized.
To his credit, Lundqvist, who had been playing a spectacular game despite the two disputed goals, was able to regain his composure and keep the Rangers in the contest. Lundqvist stood his ground when the Capitals crashed his crease early and often in the second period, making big saves on David Steckel and Fleischmann from in tight. And he was sharp later in the second when tested on a booming Ovechkin slap shot and a tricky Fleischmann wrist shot.
“We can't keep throwing these great performances by Hank away,” said Voros. “We've got to capitalize. If he's going to keep the puck out of the net for us, we've got to get him some goal support and do our end of the bargain by getting shots on net. Our shots on goal were unsatisfactory up until our necks were up against the wall and we suddenly turned it on a little too late.”
The Rangers did not create as many solid scoring chances against Johnson over the first 40 minutes, and the Caps goalie stopped all 15 shots he faced to help Washington carry a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.
“They should have some credit for the first period,” Lundqvist said of the Capitals. “They did play really well, but I think we bounced back pretty good. Our best period was definitely the third period. ... We made it a little too easy for them in the first two periods.”
Renney agreed that the Capitals did most of their damage by the way they stormed out of the gate on Saturday.
“We thought Washington would come out that way, and when you get some tough calls, your tendency is to maybe to play it a bit safer, and you that's not the way to play this game,” he said. “The bottom line is you got to go after it. Ultimately, we did, but we were down 2-0 by that time.”
When called upon, Johnson was sharp in denying Callahan’s rising snap shot in the first, as well as clutch saves on Michal Rozsival, Wade Redden, and Nigel Dawes in the second. Blair Betts also created a good scoring chance from in close during the middle stanza; and he set off a shoving match between the two teams when he whacked away at Johnson’s pads trying to pry the puck loose after the save.
Perhaps spurred on by Betts, the Rangers played a more physical contest as the game progressed. Dubinsky and Marc Staal, who shook off a thunderous first period hit by Ovechkin that left him dazed for a moment, keyed the physical play in the third period that helped the Rangers nearly complete the comeback from a 2-0 deficit.
However, the Rangers were left frustrated by Johnson, Semin, and the calls that went against them when the final buzzer sounded.
The Blueshirts will look to pick themselves up and get back on the winning track Monday night when they host the Edmonton Oilers at Madison Square Garden.
|PPG - Brooks Laich (3) ASST: Alexander Semin (10), Nicklas Backstrom (5)|
1 - 0 WSH
|Tom Poti (1) ASST: Boyd Gordon (3)|
2 - 0 WSH
|PPG - Aaron Voros (6) ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (9), Dan Girardi (9)|
2 - 1 WSH
|EN - Alexander Semin (11) ASST: Jeff Schultz (5)|
3 - 1 WSH
|Aaron Voros Too many men/ice - bench|
|Wade Redden Hi-sticking against Viktor Kozlov|
|David Steckel Hi-sticking against Paul Mara|
|Paul Mara Tripping against Alex Ovechkin|
|Nicklas Backstrom Boarding against Aaron Voros|
|Dmitri Kalinin Hooking against Tomas Fleischmann|
|Alexander Semin Tripping against Scott Gomez|
|SA: 27||TOI: 59:13|
|Saves: 25||EV: 19 - 20|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 6|
|SV%: .926||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 29||TOI: 59:51|
|Saves: 28||EV: 21 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 6|
|SV%: .966||SH: 2 - 2|