NEW YORK -- From the knees down, beating Henrik Lundqvist with a shot is like trying to knock down bowling pins with the re-set gate down.
The Capitals know this. And although they may not say it, their actions speak volumes.
In Saturdays 3-2 win over the New York Rangers, which evened the best-of-seven series at two wins apiece, two of the Capitals three goals beat the 30-year-old netminder over the shoulders.
In the first period Alex Ovechkin had a clear path to the net and as Lundqvist dropped to his knees the Capitals captain beat him high off his right shoulder. In the second period Nicklas Backstrom also had an unobstructed view of the net and fired a shot high over Lundqvists left shoulder.
You look at him and you think, Geez, he plays pretty deep, you should be able to pick his pocket, Capitals associate goalie coach Olie Kolzig said. But his angles are so good and he plays so wide. Youve got to beat him with a good shot, a good high shot.
Capitals defenseman Mike Green might have taken a similar approach on his game-winning shot, a thundering slapper from the top of the right circle. But just as Green cocked to shoot, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh slid in front of his shooting lane.
I was just waiting for their shot blocker to pass by so I could get a shot off, said Green, whose shot beat Lundqvist about a foot off the ice. The game plan every night is dont get your shots blocked.
The Rangers went into the series against the Capitals leading all playoff teams in blocked shots because their forwards collapse in front of Lundqvist. With that in mind the Capitals tweaked their offensive zone approach by retrieving pucks in the corners then quickly feeding them back to the points.
Weve had to wait for shots, Green said. And if we dont have a shot we dont shoot because we dont want it blocked and sent the other way.
Kolzig believes that if the Caps want to win two more games against the Rangers itll take more than just aiming for Lundqvists water bottle. Theyll need to treat his crease as if its Madison Avenue.
But even that is no guarantee against a goalie whom many consider the best in the business.
For what hes done in the city that he plays in for the number of years that hes done it is just tremendous, Kolzig said. Hes up for the Vezina, hes up for the Hart and he could legitimately win both. Hes a competitor. Its playoff hockey and you say it time and time again that youve got to get traffic in front.
Ovis goal in Game 2 there was traffic. Lundqvist didnt see it and he picked it up late and those are the ways that youre going to beat this guy. Usually, when goalies are playing this well, if they see it, theyre stopping it.
And if they dont, they usually arent.