Ovi: In our house, in front of our fans, things will be different
NEW YORK -- Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden:
How it happened: Third-period goals by Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan gave the Rangers their second two-goal lead of the game and although the Caps got a goal from Karl Alzner, they could not score the equalizer and saw the Rangers even the series at two wins apiece.
What it means: In their playoff history, the Caps are 0-6 when holding a 2-1 lead in a series and losing Game 4.
What’s next: The series shifts to Verizon Center for Game 5 on Friday night, with Game 6 now a certainty in New York on Sunday.
Goal-by-goal: Rangers 1, Caps 0: With 5:35 remaining in the first period Braden Holtby came out of his net to play the puck, allowed Carl Hagelin to wheel past him, then had his outlet pass plucked out of the air by Taylor Pyatt. Pyatt’s shot at the open net was blocked by John Carlson, but with Holtby scrambling to get back in his net Brad Richards shot into the empty cage for his first goal of the series.
Rangers 2, Caps 0: With 10:13 gone in the second period, Hagelin finished off a 3-on-3 rush by hammering a rolling pass from Derek Brassard off a sliding Steve Oleksy and over Holtby’s right shoulder. It was Hagelin;s second goal of the series. The Rangers were leading in shots 21-8 at the time of Hagelin’s goal.
Rangers 2, Caps 1: Just over 3 minutes after Hagelin’s goal, Joel Ward drove hard to the net and shoveled a pass to Mathieu Perreault at the side of the net for Petrreault’s first career playoff goal.
Rangers 2, Caps 2: With 17.1 seconds remaining in the second period, Troy Brouwer took a pass from Mike Green and whipped a backhander past an unscreened Henrik Lundqvist for his first goal of the series.
Rangers 3, Caps 2: With Jason Chimera in the penalty box for interfering with Anton Stralman at the end of the second period, the Rangers regained the lead just 59 seconds into the third period on a power-play blast by Dan Girardi.
Rangers 4, Caps 2: A defensive zone giveaway by Nicklas Backstrom led to a down-low 2-on-1 and Stepan and Hagelin worked it perfectly, leaving Jack Hillen defenseless on Stepan’s goal of the series at the 6:02 mark.
Rangers 4, Caps 3: With 7:31 gone in the third period Joel Ward won a faceoff, then got the puck back to Karl Alzner, whose shot might have deflected off the back of Mathieu Perreault and past Lundqvist to breathe life back into the Caps.
Hit of the night: Alex Ovechkin’s runaway train wreck on Derek Stepan with 94 seconds left in the first period actually did more damage than intended. Marty Erat was hooking Stepan from behind and had his left arm tucked in the crook of Stepan’s arm. When Ovechkin separated Stepan from the puck, he took Erat’s arm with him. Erat went right to the trainer’s room and did not return. The team is calling it an “upper body” injury. Eric Fehr took Erat’s spot on the second line. If Erat cannot play in Game 5, look for Fehr to stay on that second line and Aaron Volpatti to return to the lineup on the fourth line.
Save of the night: This one has to go to Braden Holtby, who flashed his right pad to stop a Derek Stepan breakaway in the second period to keep the Rangers’ lead at 1-0.
Clowe back, Staal out: After missing the first three games of the series with a suspected concussion, Ryane Clowe returned to the lineup and was sandpapery all night. However, the Rangers were forced to play Game 4 without Marc Staal, who must have had some vision problems in his return to the lineup in Game 3. Steve Eminger returned to the lineup and played on a third defense pairing with Michael Del Zotto.