Raby: Third, fourth lines step up as Caps cruise

Raby: Third, fourth lines step up as Caps cruise
April 16, 2011, 4:23 am
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Saturday, April 16, 2011 12:19 a.m.By Ben RabyCSNwashington.com
Former Washington Capitals captain and Stanley Cup champion Ryan Walter once said championships are not necessarily won with a hockey teams top two lines. But championships could be lost, Walter said, if the third- and fourth-line players dont do their parts.

In Game 2 against the Rangers Friday at Verizon Center, Washingtons No. 3 line did plenty. Two nights after "The Alexes" -- Ovechkin and Semin -- scored the Caps only two goals of their Game 1 win, the workmanlike trio of Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson was arguably the best on the ice as the Capitals took a 2-0 series lead.

If you look at the playoff series in the past, Chimera said after the Caps' 2-0 win, you always see third and fourth lines stepping up.

Chimera stepped up in Game 2 with the game-winning goal, a team-high five shots on goal and five hits.

Hes heating up, and its playoff time, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. Sometimes through history there have been guys who have played and raised their level of play at playoff time. I thought hes had two really good games.

Boudreau said before Game 1 that with all the attention he expected Ovechkin and the Caps' top scorers to draw from Rangers defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, it would be up to the secondary scorers to pick up the slack. Chimera says thats what the playoffs are all about.

The first two lines get checked so tightly in the playoffs, theyve got guys on them, theyve got back pressure on them and it seems like maybe the third and fourth lines dont get as much pressure. Theres a little bit of a lapse in the defense, and you have to pull through.

We said before that we felt we had a good line and we felt that we could make a difference. Its huge anytime we can step up. The fourth line has played really well for us, and if the third and fourth lines play like that, were going to have a good chance to win.

The Capitals did not get their first shot on goal until 6:07 of the first period, when Chimera tested Henrik Lundqvist from the right faceoff circle. Chimera had the Caps' first two shots on goal, three of the first five and five of the first 10.

That fifth shot, at 2:11 of the second period, was also the first of the night to beat Lundqvist. The play began with Laich beating Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy one-on-one below the goal line. Laich then fed Johansson to the left of Lundqvist with the rookie quickly finding Chimera for his second career playoff tally.

They can all skate, Boudreau said of Chimera, Laich and Johansson. They put pressure on, and when they get a goal, it lifts the team. They got a great goal -- Brooks effort behind the net, Marcus saw Chimera and it was a one-timer that was a pretty hard shot to stop, I would think.

Laich helped the Capitals kill two penalties and set up the best scoring chance for either team on the Rangers first power play when he fed Mike Knuble late in the first period on a shorthanded 2-on-1.

The guy does it every night, Chimera said. Brooks is the type of guy that does it all for us, he plays the power play, the penalty kill, he makes blocks and hes important part of the team and he proved it tonight.

Its nice to be in the position were in, Laich said after the win. We knew they were going to come out hard, especially the first six or seven minutes, but we also knew that if we played good defensive hockey they wouldnt be able to sustain that pressure and then we could push back.