Tom Poti celebrates goal with David Steckel on April 26, 2009.
Photo by Getty Images
Photo by Getty Images
Capitals 5 - Rangers 3
The Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Playoff series between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers was evened up 3-3 yesterday, when the Capitals beat the Rangers in New York, after having been down by three games to one.
The Rangers' temporary bench boss was Assistant GM and interim coach Jim Schoenfeld. Schoenfeld took over the position for this game while Head Coach John Tortorella had a seat upstairs. Tortorella had been suspended for one game for throwing a water bottle at an unruly spectater in Washington at Game 5. The decision to suspend Torts was followed up by Rangers GM Glen Sather asking NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to punish the Capitals for what he thought was a lack of action by their security personnel. His request, which was full of fantasy about how well behaved the fans are in their arena, is just another desperate move by an organization that will stop at nothing to gain any advantage they can.
As far as the game itself, it was another display of the Capitals superiority over the Rangers. Simeon Varlamov didn't have to make very many spectacular saves in net for the Caps, but he was good when he needed to be. Washington's first three goals were all scored by defensemen. Milan Jurcina was first to light the lamp, putting the puck past goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 7:09 in the first period. Matt Bradley had blocked a clearing attempt and the puck ended up with David Steckel. Steckel's centering pass reached Brooks Laich, who dished it to Jurcina for the well screened shot. Uncharacteristically for the Rangers, they answered back with a power play goal by Scott Gomez about a minute later. The next power play opportunity belonged to the Capitals, and Mike Green banged in a rebound off of an Alexander Semin shot that was set up by defenseman Tom Poti. A few minutes later, Poti just got out of the penalty box for a puck over the glass delay of game call, when he found himself joining David Steckel and Boyd Gordon for a three on one odd man rush going into New York's end. It was a beautiful play that ended with Poti tipping in a cross ice pass from Steckel.
Halfway through the second period, Poti was involved in another Washington goal. Sergei Fedorov got the puck to Poti from behind the Caps net, and he sent an outlet pass to Viktor Kozlov. Kozlov skated the puck the rest of the way and ended up following the puck into the Rangers' net after his game winning shot. Poti would also be a part of a power play goal by Alex Ovechkin at 16:44. Nicklas Backstrom had control of the puck high in the slot. Under pressure, he sent it back to Poti at the point. Ovechkin purposefully deflected in Poti's slap shot.
As in Game 5, Steven Valiquette replaced Lundqvist to start the third period. At least one of the Rangers' two goals in the third shouldn't have happened, but they didn't change the outcome of the game anyway. After a couple really weak calls that sent defenseman John Erskine to the penalty box for holding and Backstrom for hooking, the Rangers scored their second goal during the 5 on 3. Shortly after getting back to even strength from a couple more bad calls, New York got their final meaningless goal just before time ran out.
Just as they did last season, Washington has come from seeming to be hopelessly behind in the series, to forcing a Game 7. Their talent and relentless determination has gotten them far, and should carry them past the Rangers in the final game of the series.