The Washington Capitals entered tonight’s game knowing they were walking into a hornet’s nest. The Manhattan fans and media were up in arms over comments made by Coach Bruce Boudreau, and the arena was raucous. The Rangers team, which had been quiet through the first two games, blitzed the Caps in Game 3 to make it interesting. Heap on top of that the Caps oldest player and core leader, Mike Knuble, sitting out injured after he hurt his hand and scored a goal on the same play in Game 3.
The Caps responded well in the first period, controlling long stretches of play and adhering to good hockey principles of attacking and defending. The second period featured a complete collapse of team discipline and confidence as the Rangers piled up the goals, including 2 in 7 seconds, to jump to a 3-0 lead. The Caps knew they would have to go back to that horrible building in New York with the horrible benches for Game 6 if they lost, so they responded with 3 unanswered goals to force overtime…and eventually double overtime. The Caps once again dominated play in the extra session, and with the puck bounding wildly, got a lucky break for a Jason Chimera tap-in to end the game and push the series to 3-1.
“Sturm” means “Attack”
Net crashing. The Caps went to the net in the first and third periods and were rewarded for it. Caps rookie center Marcus Johansson potted two goals, one on a tip-in from 4 feet away and the other on a deflection from a John Carlson point shot. Alex Semin got the rally started when he and Jason Arnott crashed the net looking for loose change. And, of course, Jason Chimera’s goal came from just 2 feet away. If the Caps want to continue winning games and scoring goals, it would be a good idea to keep crashing the goal. Additionally, for long stretches of the game the Caps played punishing physical hockey that wore the Rangers players down.
The Caps got into penalty trouble again. The Caps took 6 minor penalties during regulation, then a sloppy line change meant the bench was nailed for a too many men penalty in overtime. The referees called (mostly) good penalties, the Caps just got sloppy and it nearly cost them.
The Capitals’ collapse in the second period. It wasn’t pretty, and the Rangers were finally able to build a sizeable lead while making Michal Neuvirth look vulnerable. While it’s not how a coach would draw it up, falling behind like that was the best thing that could have happened to the Caps. Once the Caps finally heard the fight bell ring, they woke up their offense and got to work doing all of the things they should have been doing all series: attack the net and forecheck hard. This win bodes well for the Caps moving forward.