NEW YORK – This one hurt. It really hurt.
A double overtime loss is one thing but to do it on a botched play and a cheap goal by Jason Chimera at 12:36 of the fifth period made the final 4-3 and put the Washington Capitals up 3-1 over the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
“[Henrik Lundqvist] is ready to tie it up,” said a subdued coach John Tortorella. “It’s just a fluky goal. It’s a nothing play that turns into something. Obviously something big.”
Something really big, actually. The Rangers played their hearts out. Lundqvist was a monster with 49 saves on the night. Marc Staal shut down the monster known as Alex Ovechkin and Blueshirts had a 3-0 lead after two.
But something happened on the way to tying this series and the Rangers let up their nice work during the first third minutes of the third. First, Ryan McDonagh tried to clear a puck, which went right to Alex Semin , who prompted put it on net and then deposited the rebound to cut the lead to 2 and then the Rangers couldn’t clear the puck about a minute later and Marcus Johansson was able to put it home to make it a one goal lead.
“Well, we turned it over,” Tortorella said. “We gave them two free ones. We turned it over and lost our coverage on a back door play.”
Ultimately, though the Johansson was able to then tie it after the Rangers were successful at killing a power play by having a John Carlson shot go off his chest.
All of this erased what was looking to be a banner night at the Garden. A raucous crowd attacked the Caps at the drop of the puck, chanting “Boudreau [stinks]!” in response to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau’s comments about the Rangers fans.
And it worked for two periods, as with Lundqvist holding Washington at the Potomac and Artem Anisimov bouncing a puck off Matt Hendricks to open the scoring at 5:24 of the second. Then with less than seven minutes left in the period, the Blueshirts put up two within seven second, thanks to the superb passing of Ruslan Fedotenko. First he blindly fed Marian Gaborik to the stick side of Michal Neuvirth to make it 2-0 and then on the ensuing faceoff, went untouched down to Neuvirth, got his own rebound and fed Brandon Dubinsky to make it 3-0.
At that point the Garden Faithful started chanting “Can You Hear Us!” for the rest of the second. And obviously the Capitals did and responded.
Now the Rangers are in a 3-1 hole going to Washington to win a Game 5. It’s going to be a tough task, but remember Washington was in the same position two years ago and came back to win.
“They did it, why not us?” thought Marc Staal.
And why not? But first the club will need to get off the sting of this double overtime loss, something they will have two days to do and then gear up to face the Caps in Washington at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Notes: The Rangers were 0-7 on the Power Play tonight, making it only 1-18 for the series. “I think it starts with getting it there and getting the puck back,” said Dubinsky. Too many times we were one and done.