Most hockey fans will admit that home-ice advantage is important, but in recent Stanley Cup Playoff action it’s been more than occasionally overcome. Don’t tell that to the Caps and Rangers, who have been perfect at home in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal and are going the distance as a result of a 1-0 New York win in Game 6.
There will be a lot of debating the officiating today. The Caps did not receive a single power play from referees Brad Watson and Marc Joannette. The Rangers were awarded five man-advantages, but were not able to crack the Washington penalty killers and Braden Holtby.
Holtby finished the game with 28 stops and played a very strong game in goal while hooked-up in a classic goaltender’s duel with Henrik Lundquist.
Caps fans definitely could have complained that Ranger blueliner Michael Del Zotto was not whistled for a late and high hit on Mathieu Perreault in the opening period.
The only goal of the game came in the middle period when Derick Brassard blasted away from 50 feet and had the puck deflect off Steve Oleksy and into the goal.
The tally was originally credited to Rick Nash, the Ranger winger who led the team in goals in the regular season, who has been under fire for his ineffectiveness in this series.
Alex Ovechkin has been kept off the score-sheet since his power-play goal in Game One. It’s the longest playoff goal-scoring drought in his career. He was credited with five shots in the game Sunday, two of which required excellent saves by Lundquist. The Swede ended the game with 27 saves and the seventh playoff shutout of his career.
Ovechkin crushed Ranger defender Dan Girardi twice in the game. The cumulative wear-n-tear on the tandem of Girardi and Ryan McDonagh must be growing and maybe a factor in the decisive game.
Since 2008, seven of the last nine playoff series involving the Caps have needed seven games to declare a winner.
The start time for Game 7 at Verizon Center is 8:00 p.m. It will be our pleasure to have the call on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with an hour-long Caps Central beginning at 7 p.m.