Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden:
How it happened: As Barry Trotz predicted before the game, the Rangers showed more desperation than the housewives on Wisteria Lane, ambushing Braden Hotlby with two goals in a first period that saw the Caps outshot 15-4. Goals by Chris Kreider and Dan Boyle put the Caps in an early hole, but Evgeny Kuznetsov’s team-leading fourth goal of the playoffs with 6:01 remaining in the second period kept the Caps in the game, as did Holtby’s 25 saves through two periods. The Rangers scored what proved to be the game-winner 10 seconds after the Caps failed to score on a power play. Alex Ovechkin made things interesting with a highlight bull rush goal midway through the final period, but Henrik Lundqvist survived a final flurry to preserve the win.
What it means: The Rangers have tied the series at one win apiece. Game 3 will take place Monday night at Verizon Center.
The goal: Alex Ovechkin has scored some incredible goals in his nine-year career and his mad rumble through the Rangers’ top defense pairing of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi was a thing of beastly beauty. Ovechkin took a psss from Joel Ward in full stride, rumbled through the two defensemen and, as he was falling to the ice, snapped a bullet inside the far post for his fourth goal of the post-season. Ovechkin also delivered nine hits in an incredible individual effort.
Goal breakdown: The Rangers opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the game when Kreider skated unmarked to the Capitals net to jam home a Jesper Fast rebound for his second goal of the playoffs. It was the start of a big game for Kreider, who also took out Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Orpik with heavy body checks and was stopped on a second period breakaway on a left pad save by Holtby. Kreider also rang a shot off the left post midway through the third period.
The Rangers made it 2-0 with 4:20 remaining in the first period when Boyle blasted a shot through a screen provided by Rick Nash for his first of the playoffs.
The Capitals found their legs in the second period and cut the deficit in half when Kuznetsov snapped a Jason Chimera rebound past Henrik Lundqvist, who stoned him earlier in the period with an incredible pad save off an equally incredible backhand pass from Ovechkin.
The Rangers scored the killer goal with 13:49 remaining in the third period when, after serving an interference penalty on Ovechkin, Derrick Brassard parked himself in front of Holtby and received a seeing-eye pas from Marty St. Louis that somehow found its way past the outstretched sticks of Jay Beagle and Matt Niskanen.