Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rangers on the brink of elimination after fluky double-OT goal

(photo courtesy of

Heading into the third period of Game 4, the New York Rangers were feeling good about their chances of taking the series back to Washington tied at two. A three-goal second period staked them to a 3-0 lead, one that goaltender Henrik Lundqvist could surely hold.

The Madison Square Garden crowd was as intense as ever in response to Washington coach Bruce Boudreau's comments after Game 3 that the Garden's reputation as a tough place to play was overstated. Fans came out with a "Can you hear us?" chant as the Rangers took control of the game in the second period.

But the Garden intensity wasn't enough to break Washington's spirit, as a tough break around the net and some good passing from the Capitals brought them within a goal in the early minutes of the final period. They would eventually tie the game on a long slap shot with 7:53 remaining in regulation.

After that goal the teams played over 40 minutes of scoreless hockey, including an Alexander Ovechkin breakaway in overtime that was turned away by Lundqvist, who stopped 49 of Washington's 53 shots in the game. By comparison, the Rangers had just 39 shots on goal.

The game-winner finally came in the second overtime when Marion Gaborik attempted to clear the puck in front of his own net. Instead of letting the puck trickle to Lundqvist, who was looking to cover it, Gaborik's clear went right into the chest of Washington's Jason Chimera, who let the puck drop to the ice before slamming it into the open net vacated by Lundqvist.

Down 3-1 in the series, the Rangers should take solace in the fact that just last season, the Capitals were the Eastern Conference's top-ranked team and held a 3-1 series advantage against the Canadiens, who won the final three games to advance to the second round.

Is history doomed to repeat itself for the Capitals? Rangers fans sure hope so, but their team desperately needs a road win to bring this series back to the Garden. If they can pull that off and represent at home to tie the series, anything can happen in Game 7. Anything.

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