Instant analysis: Rangers-Capitals

Instant analysis: Rangers-Capitals
April 14, 2011, 3:50 am
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GAME 2: AT WASHINGTON, FRIDAY, 7:30 P.M., CSN

Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 11:49 p.m.

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By Ryan OHalloran
Staff WriterCSNwashington.com

A review of the Capitals 2-1 overtime win over the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Why the Capitals won: The Capitals rallied from a 1-0 deficit because they didnt allow the Rangers to so much as sniff the game-sealing goal, allowing them to peck away at Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. During overtime, the Capitals kept their poise during a pace that was at times breakneck and supremely entertaining. Alexander Semins blast 18:24 into overtime gave the Capitals a 1-0 series advantage.

The good: Goalie Michal Neuvirth didnt have a lot of work, but after the Rangers scored with 18-plus minutes left in regulation, he kept the deficit at a goal, allowing Alex Ovechkin to force overtime with 6:16 left. Neuvirth finished with 24 saves not a bad NHL postseason debut. Semin played so well, he was elevated to the Ovechkin-Nick Backstrom line for a spell late in regulation Defenseman Mike Green took a regular shift in his first game back after missing 20 matches and played 26:30. The Capitals physical play they outhit the Rangers 35-31, and New York was perceived to be the more physical team. The constant post-whistle scrums this series already has some snarl, particularly Ovechkin against Brandon Dubinsky and defenseman Marc Staal. The game-tying goal, which was an example of want-to. Ovechkin and Semin kept whacking at Henrik Lundqvists pads until the puck trickled in. The Capitals blocked 32 shots. Overtime hockey is just incredible. At ice level, the hitting was hard, the skating brilliant and the rhythm of the game impressive. Its the most pressure-filled event in professional sports.

The bad: More like bad luck in the first period Jason Arnott and Semin hit the crossbar 19 seconds apart. Semin took an offensive zone penalty late in the first period. The power play was 0-for-2 in regulation, and the second chance produced nary a shot. The number of blocked shots by the Rangers (28). The Capitals stressed quick puck movement leading into the series, but there were only short glimpses of that. And when Lundqvist did have to flash his nifty glove, he had a clear view of the shot. Ovechkins roughing penalty late in regulation the Capitals got away with it by killing the two minutes. The Rangers should have been called for a delay of game penalty in overtime.

Key moment: Semins goal, which came on a feed from Arnott. Semin hammered home the slap shot past Lundqvist. It was Semins first playoff goal in 15 games. As Mike Knuble said afterward, if the Capitals win in the playoffs, its because Semin is scoring goals.

Key stat: 24. Combined blocked shots by Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner (eight), John Carlson (two), Green (six), Jeff Schultz (four) and Scott Hannan (four).

Capitals player of the game: Semin. Imagine how dangerous the Capitals can be this postseason if he actually gets going offensively. Even before his overtime winner, he was playing a solid game.

Quote: Its a huge goal for the whole team were all happy for Semin because last year he was a little bit upset he didnt score a goal, and right now its important for him to score a goal, step up and show his leadership. Ovechkin on Semin.
Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com.