April 25, 2009

Rangers Vs Capitals 04/24/2009 EC Quarterfinal Game 5 Review

Matt Bradley scores first goal of Game 5 on April 24, 2009.
Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo.

Rangers 0 - Capitals 4

The Washington Capitals extended their first round playoff series to at least a Game 6 by shutting out the New York Rangers 4-0 for the second time in the post season. The Rangers played hard, but the Capitals were at least a little better in every category.

Forward Matt Bradley scored the first goal of the game with the very first shot on goal, while the Caps were killing off their first penalty. It was only the second shorthanded goal in all of the 2009 Quarterfinals so far, and Bradley's first ever NHL level playoff goal. The primary assist came from Boyd Gordon, who cleared the puck from behind the Caps' net, sending it along the boards. Bradley collected the puck just inside the offensive zone, drove straight through the slot and slid it past goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Just 7:09 later and still in the first period, Bradley got his second goal of the game with a severe angle shot from the sidewall, near the goal line.

The other two goals came from Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin during the second period. Ovechkin's goal was another highlight reel spectacle, scored 29 seconds before the end of the period. He grabbed the puck at the Caps' blueline and skated it all the way up ice. After entering the Rangers' end, he plowed through New York forward Chris Drury as he went across the ice, slid the puck between the legs of defenseman Derek Morris and then headed right down the middle. He sent a backhander to the net as he fell to the ice, and Aaron Voros rode piggy back as Ovie slid to the end wall.

There were a lot of penalties called in this very physical game, with 11 of the 19 committed by the Rangers. That's not the best game plan fellas. There were a few more that could have been called, but this game probably was officiated a little bit better than in the previous contests. I would like to know why it always seems like the referees end up holding on to Washingtons' players at the end of fights, while the other guys get a few more punches in. Thankfully, we've got seriously tough guys like John Erskine and Donald Brashear, who can take some sucker punches. Our enforcers can also play hockey pretty well too, unlike New York's thug only Colton Orr.

If you're a Capitals fan, it's a time to be proud of your team. They did just about everything right, including chasing Henrik Lundqvist from between the pipes, by scoring four goals within their first 14 shots on net in the first two periods. He was replaced by Steven Valiquette at the start of the third. Valiqutte didn't give up any goals on the measly seven shots that made it to the net, but New York never got anything past Simeon Varlamov through all 60 minutes, earning him his second shutout of the series. Former Washington goalie Olie Kolzig is the only other Capital to have earned more than one shutout (4 in 1998) during a playoff series. The Caps also blocked 21 shots in this game, while the Rangers only blocked 11.

The Capitals will now head back to New York for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. They must win that game to get a Game 7 back in Washington, DC. They must win both games to advance to the next round and avoid elimination.

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