Capitals Win On Road, Even Series With Rangers
By Stephen London
Before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals even got under way, New York Rangers fans were chanting at Alex Ovechkin, "3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Ovi sucks!"
Ovechkin spent less time on the ice (13:36) than he ever has during his 46-game playoff career, but he had one of the most crucial goals of the game. With less than eight minutes left during the third period, he scored the game-winner, helping the Caps to a 3-2 win against the Rangers to tie the series, 1-1, before Game 3 in Washington, D.C., May 2.
The Capitals' fourth line of Mike Knuble, Joel Ward and Keith Aucoin didn't get much ice time -- Ward had the most with 12:06 -- but did give the Capitals a 1-0 lead during the first period. Ward intercepted a pass to the point in the defensive zone and dropped the puck to Aucoin, who quickly threw it back to Ward. Ward then sent the puck across the crease to a waiting Knuble for the slam-dunk goal.
Less than five minutes later, Capitals right wing Jay Beagle dumped the puck into the offensive zone after crossing the middle of the ice. Jason Chimera came flying down, reaching the puck before Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was waiting behind the net.
While catching Lundqvist out of position, Chimera passed in front of the net to a streaking Matt Hendricks. Hendricks tried to shoot backhanded and through his legs past a sprawling goaltender, but the shot was deflected. Chimera got the rebound and scored his third goal of the postseason.
Before the first period came to a close, the Rangers responded when Brad Richards scored to make it a 2-1 game.
The Rangers were going after Capitals defenseman Mike Green, causing him to commit turnovers and a tripping penalty that led to a Rangers power play at the beginning of the second period. But the middle period was scoreless, and no penalties were called either.
Knuble earned the first penalty of the third period after he hit a Rangers player in the chest with his stick as he tried to bat a puck down. Less than a minute later, Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan beat Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby to tie the game at 2.
Richards committed a holding penalty with 7:31 left to play, and four seconds later Ovechkin fired a top-shelf wrist shot, beating All-Star Lundqvist. Hunter's decision to hold Ovechkin out for almost the entire first period was surprising, but the strategy ultimately proved effective.
The Capitals now return home for two games, giving them a chance to feed off the crowd at the Verizon Center and take a 3-1 series lead.
Posted May 1, 2012