Adam Oates says Alex Ovechkin "played good hockey"
Adam Oates had a difficult time explaining how a series that was so tight through six games was decided by a Game 7 so lopsided it ended with half the crowd already several Metro stops out of the District.
“Quite honestly, it’s tough to explain,” Oates said after watching the New York Rangers light up Braden Holtby in a series-clinching 5-0 blowout win at Verizon Center.
“It’s funny how over the years sometimes that seventh game can be some form of blowout. I wish I had an answer for that.”
He, of course, is Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped all 35 shots he faced to record his second straight shutout, coaxing the Rangers off the cliff of elimination after trailing the series 3-2.
“They played good,” Rangers right wing Tory Brouwer said, “but I think Henrik Lundqvist is the reason they’re moving on.”
Thanks to Lundqvist and a swarming team defense the Rangers held the line of Alex Ovechkin [one goal, one assist, minus-2], Nicklas Backstrom [one goal, two assists, minus-2], and Marcus Johansson [one goal, one assist, minus-3] to just three goals in seven games and none in the final two games.
“We weren’t good enough,” Backstrom said. “Obviously, they played good on us, but we should still score goals. I can only talk for myself, my effort. It was embarrassing. It wasn’t good enough. No excuses.”
The Capitals came out with fire in their eyes, generating 32 attempts at the net in the first period. Only 13 of those got through to Lundqvist as the Rangers blocked 13 shots in the opening period and 27 for the game.
“We pushed really hard in the first period,” Oates said. “[Lundqvist] makes some great saves, they get a lucky one and every bounce went their way tonight.”
Arron Asham turned a Mike Green miss at one of the ice into his second goal of the playoffs at the other, ripping a shortside shot inside the right post for a 1-0 lead with 6:41 remaining in the opening period.
After that the Rangers seemed to play at another gear. Taylor Pyatt potted a goal from the side of the net and Michal Del Zotto banked one off Troy Brouwer’s skate and past Holtby for a 3-0 lead. After that the only question was how long the fans would be able to sit through the lopsided loss.
When Ryan Callahan stole a pass from John Erskine and beat Holtby on a backhander just 13 seconds into the third period, the outcome was sealed.
“We still wanted to play for the fans that were still here,” Brouwer said, “and show we weren’t going to give up, no matter what the score was.”
Oates said there might have been a goal or two Holtby would like to have back, but he was not about to hang the loss on his 23-year-old goalie.
“We just needed to play better,” Holtby said, “myself especially. We had a chance to win but it’s in the past now.”