Caps force Game 7 vs. Rangers

Caps force Game 7 vs. Rangers
May 10, 2012, 2:14 am
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Now do you believe?

Forty-eight hours after being kicked in their collective guts with a crushing overtime loss in New York, the Capitals bared their playoff souls Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.

And what did the sellout crowd at the Phone Booth see?

A team hell-bent on going the distance -- again.

Alex Ovechkin and Jason Chimera provided the offense and rookie Braden Holtby stopped 30 shots of 31 shots to liftthe Capitals to a 2-1 win over the Rangers and forcing a decisive Game 7 in New Yorks Madison Square Garden Saturday night.

In their history, the Rangers are 4-5 all-time in Game Sevens, but 4-0 at the Garden, including their Game 7 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Round 1.

The Capitals are 3-7 all-time in Game Sevens and 1-1 on the road, including a Game 7 overtime victory in Boston in Round 1.

The Capitals are looking to pull off what the Rangers accomplished in the first round, when they won the final two games of their series against Ottawa after falling behind three games to two.

The Rangers failed on 10 minutes of power play time in the game, including a four-minute man-advantage in the second period. But they managed to close within one goal when Marian Gaborik scored with 50.5 seconds remaining and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist pulled for an extra attacker.

After blowing a one-goal lead in the waning seconds of Game 5 in New York, there was much debate over how the Capitals would respond to their second elimination game of the playoffs.

The Capitals responded well by wining Game 7 in Boston and they roared out to a 2-0 lead in Game 6 against the Rangers.
Ovechkin, who in Game 5 failed to record a shot for just the second time in his playoff career, got things started just 88 seconds into the game when he rifled a blistering one-timer past Henrik Lundqvists catching glove.

The Rangers Anton Stralman put the Capitals on the power play by tripping Jason Chimera just 1:13 into the game. On the power play the Capitals moved the puck quickly around the offensive zone, resulting in Nicklas Backstrom finding Ovechkin in the high slot for his team-high fifth goal of the playoffs and third of the series.

The team that has scored the first goal of the game has won every game in the series and the Capitals doubled their lead to 2-0 midway through the second period.

This time it was a shot by John Carlson that kicked off the skate of Backstrom right onto the blade of Jason Chimeras stick. The veteran left wing easily deposited the puck into the empty side of the net for his fourth goal of the post-season at the 10:59 mark.

It was the first two-goal lead by the Capitals in the series and just their second in the playoffs.

The Rangers had a golden opportunity to climb back in the game about a minute after Chimeras goal when Capitals center Jeff Halpern, who replaced injured center Jay Beagle, took a four-minute hick-sticking penalty on New York center John Mitchell, cutting him on the bridge of his nose.

The Rangers failed to mount much of an attack during the extended man-advantage and were actually outshot 2-1 by the Capitals, who failed to convert on a shorthanded blast by Mike Green.

Notes: Capitals checking line center Jay Beagle missed the game with an apparent left leg injury and was replaced in the lineup by little-used veteran Jeff Halpern. Beagle, who ranks fifth among Washington forward with an average of 18:25 of ice time in the playoffs, suffered the injury when he blocked a shot by Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman in the second period of Game 5 in New York. Halpern, who was a healthy scratch the previous 19 games, played on a fourth line with Mike Knuble and Keith Aucoin. The Capitals checking line consisted of Matt Hendricks, Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward. Entering Game 6, nine of the Rangers 12 playoff games had been decided by one goal. Eleven of the Capitals 12 games also were decided by one goal. The team that has scored the first goal in this series is undefeated. The Rangers entered Game 6 leading the NHL with 416 hits in the playoffs and had five players ranked in the top 15 Ryan Callahan (1st, 58), Michal Del Zotto (10th, 38), Brandon Prust (11th, 37), Dan Girardi (12th, 36) and Brian Boyle (15th, 35). The Capitals and Rangers entered Game 6 ranked first and second in blocked shots with 269 and 242, respectively. Rangers defensemen Dan Girardi (44) and Ryan McDonagh (35) ranked first and second, followed by Washingtons John Carlson (34).