Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rangers Defeat Caps In Emotional Win At Home

Brandon Dubinsky celebrates after giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead with only two minutes to play.

Going into today's game vs the Capitals, the Rangers were not yet nervous, but another loss would almost ruin their chances of advancing to the next round, and upsetting the #1 seed Washington Capitals. Good thing the Rangers weren't nervous because in front of a packed Garden the Rangers defeated the Caps 3-2 in a nail biter.

Previously in the last two games, the Rangers had lost both games in Washington, to go down 2-0 in the series. The first loss was a tough one, that was ended in OT when the Rangers turned the puck over in their own zone. They were up 1-0 for most of the third period, but a late goal by Alex Ovechkin sent the game to OT. In the second game, it was all about Capitals goalie Michael Neuvirth. Neuvirth stopped every shot his way, and helped Washington defeat the Rangers 2-0.

Henrik Lundqvist was doing the best he could to keep the Rangers in the series. The offense just wasn't there, combining for only one goal in two games. That goal was by defenseman Matt Gilroy in the first game.

In game three, in front of 18,000 blueshirts fans, the offense came out. After a scoreless and intense first period with plenty of bone bruising hits, Erik Christensen scored on a power-play goal to give the Rangers a  1-0 lead. The Rangers would keep up the pressure and looked good for the majority of the game at that point, until Alex Ovechkin scored on a redirection goal with only a minute left in the 2nd.
The Rangers were unlucky to give up that goal, because going into the 3rd period with a lead this season, the Rangers were 29-0-0.

The hitting and bruising continued into the third period. The Rangers and Capitals both had great scoring opportunities. Vinny Prospal ended the stalemate though when he slapped one past Neuvirth with about 12 minutes to play. The Rangers looked in position to give themselves the win, and narrow the deficit against the Capitals, but just when it looked perfect, Marian Gaborik took a two minute penalty for cross checking.

It would be on that power-play where Mike Knuble tied up the game with about five minutes to play. The Rangers and fans could not belive that their lead once again had been tied up by the Capitals. The Rangers were out shooting, out hustling, and overall out playing Washington.

With about two minutes to play though, Brandon Dubinsky, who had been the Rangers best skater all season, gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead when he faked out Neuvirth for the winning goal. Dubinsky looked like he was going to wrap around the net, but spun in front of the net instead, and put one over Neuvirth's shoulder to give the Blueshirts the lead.

The Rangers outshot the Capitals 35-25 during the game.

Prospal, who scored in the game was quoted after saying, "We knew this game was huge. We reminded ourselves not to look at the big picture and just focus on this one game. They did what they were supposed to do at home, so it was up to us to do the same. We were resilient and got the job done today."

Lundqvist was also quoted after the game, "The great part (in a series) is that one game can change a lot. Our focus was to come in here and get a win, try to change the momentum of the series a little bit. It was great to see the finish we had tonight. We kept fighting. We have a great feeling in here". Henk sounded very relieved too, knowing he helped give the Rangers the win.

The Rangers next game is Wednesday, also at MSG. The Rangers look to tie up the series at 2-2. If the offense could show up again, with a very loyal crowd around them, the Rangers have a great shot of coming back against the Capitals, a team known for not living up to high expectations.

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