Improbable rally sets up Capitals OT win

Improbable rally sets up Capitals OT win
April 21, 2011, 3:03 am

Thursday, April 21, 2011, 1:01 a.m.

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By Ryan OHalloran
Staff WriterCSNwashington.com

NEW YORK Combined as one, the elements laid before the Capitals entering the third period against the New York Rangers Wednesday coming back from a three-goal deficit a pipe dream at best.

The Rangers dont blow third-period leads.

The Capitals werent solving goalie Henrik Lundqvist (22-for-22 through two periods).

And the MSG crowd was having a blast heckling Bruce Boudreau (Can you hear us? and Boudreau Stinks.).

So, naturally, a night of splendid hockey ended with Boudreau, while being bear-hugged by assistant coaches Dean Evason and Bob Woods, thrusting both fists into the air.

I never believe that this team believes theyre out of the game, Boudreau said.

That belief was confirmed during a third period that will go down as one of the best in Capitals playoff history three goals in 12 minutes to force overtime, where Jason Chimera potted the winner 12:36 into the second extra period for an improbable 4-3 win in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

The Capitals hold a 3-1 lead and can close out the Rangers Saturday at Verizon Center.

Chimera scored his first postseason overtime goal on a broken play. His wrist shot hit Rangers defenseman Bryan McCabe. The puck trickled toward the goal and Henrik Lundqvists indecision forced forward Marian Gaborik to poke at the puck.

It bounced into Chimeras chest and he promptly slammed it home.

Anytime you score an OT winner or a game-winning goal in the playoffs, theres no better feeling, he said.

The Capitals improved to 2-0 in overtime during this series and 18-22 all-time. Chimeras marker (at 32:36 of overtime) is the latest by a Washington player since Joe Juneau in 1998 (26:31) against Boston.

It was Washingtons longest game in eight years.

Alexander Semin started the comeback and Marcus Johansson finished it with two goals to shock the Rangers.

Nobody can stop us if we play like we did in the third period and overtime, captain Alex Ovechkin said.

The Capitals stressed scoring quickly to start the third period and Semin delivered at the 2:44 mark when he followed his own shot and shoved the rebound under Lundqvist.

The main thing was to try and get one to try and crumble the house a little bit and that first goal really set it up for us, Brooks Laich said.

The game became interesting less than a minute later when Johannson was left alone at the goal-mouth and he back-handed in Laichs centering pass from the left half-wall. Suddenly, with 16:16 remaining, the Capitals were down only one.

You get one and you never know, Boudreau said. We got both goals very quickly and we believed we were in it.

The comeback was completed seconds after the Capitals failed to score on the power play. John Carlsons blast from the left side was deflected in by Johansson with 7:53 remaining, who scored his first two career playoff goals.

In the first overtime, the Capitals best chance was Ovechkin getting stoned by Lundqvist on a breakaway.

In the second overtime, the Capitals with Boudreau rolling four lines had the better of the chances and ended with a 53-39 shots-on-goal advantage.

Capitals goalie Michal Neuvrith stopped all 20 shots in the third periodovertimes, overcoming a second period that started with a goal bounding off teammate Matt Hendricks leg and Ranger goals seven seconds apart.

We knew we had come back so many times in the season and we proved it tonight again, Neuvirth said. Its not easy when they scored the second and third goals in a short time but I was still hoping we could come back and Im glad we did it.

Between the second and third periods, Laich said Boudreaus message was simple.

He just said we have to play better, Laich said. There was no sugar-coating it. We just had to be better.

Said Boudreau, now 4-5 in overtime games: We never gave up and we were able to relay history. San Jose came back last night from a 4-0 deficit and we talked about the Rangers coming back against Boston in the regular season and said, Hell, even we came back here last year.

But the Capitals better than most should know the job isnt done. They blew a 3-1 lead to Montreal last year.

If we think we have this won by any stretch of the imagination, were in deep trouble, Boudreau said. I think we were in this situation a little while ago.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com