Ranger sharpshooter Marian Gaboriak put his team up 1 - 0 at the 1:16 mark. It was one of those where Semyon Varlamov would like to have the shot taken by Dan Giradi back so he wouldn't have to put the rebound right on to Gaboriak's stick at point blank range and a nice space between he and the post available to him so he could net his 14th goal of the season. In any case, as a sign to the continuing maturation of Varlamov, he shook that goal off and played solid very solidly the rest of the game. At the 13:17 mark Mike Green drew a tripping penalty on Ranger's "bad boy" Sean Avery that oput the Caps on their second powerplay of the evening. The Caps got things going for the night with a well played, smart power play goal by their young guns. Alex Ovechkin was on the point first he put the puck in to Tomas Fleischmann in the left side face off circle as both Brooks Laich and Flash were in front of the net. Backstrom didn't have a shooting lan so he put the puck back to Ovie, no shooting lane. Ovie dishes to Mike Green; Green moves in but has no lane, he makes like he is going to shoot pulling Henrick Ludqvist just a little to the right. Green instead of shooting put the puck back to Ovechkin in the perfect positoin for a one-timer. Ovechkin buries it in the basket just therough the small amount of space the lanky Ranger netminder gives him. Welcome back to the lineup Ovie, goal #15 on the season ties it up 1-1. From what I saw the Caps were playing their game and outplayed the Rangers the first period out shooting them 15-5 and if not for the Rangers super goaltender Henrick Lundqvist would likely have been up by at least a goal against a lot of other teams in the league. But as it was the team went into intermission looking ahead to a 40 minute game after they would come back onto the ice.
Hey wait a minute - what about the fight? What fight? The one between Matt Bradley and Aaron Voros. Oh yeah that fight well at the 10:35 mark of the period Brads and Voros dropped em. It looked for a while that Brads was going to win his first hockey fight of the season but then Voros came back and caught Brads with a right that cut him above Brads' left eye and I'd think youy'd have to say that despite probably winning the fight if this were real boxing based on points scored, since Bradley had to go to the dressing room and get cleaned up, you'd have to score this one for Voros. It did accent the grittiness of the game and help establish that the Caps weren't going to be pushed around tonight though, so once again you have to really like that both Bradley and Erskine were in the lineup tonight and they came to play.
The second perid, the Rangers took things up a notch but the Caps responded as well. During the second period the Caps out hit the Rangers 9-3 and the teams each notched 6 shots on goal. The difference for the period was penalties and penalty killing. The Rangers gave the Caps two power plays in the second period and the Caps only gave the Rangers one, better yet, assuming you are a Caps fan, the Caps capitalized on the second power play chance they were given during the period. Through the first two periods the Caps successfully held the Rangers power play scoreless on all three power plays they had to face. In fact the Capitals PK tonight was quite impressive. The one goal of the period by the Caps came at the 15:44 mark with the Caps on the power play. At 14:11 the Energizer Bunny Mathieu Perrault drew a hooking penalty on Ales Kotalik. After Boyle cleared the puck into the Capitals end, Mike Green brought the puck up ice and into the zone. As he entered the zone he ran into heavy traffic and passed the puck off to Alexader Ovechkin who threaded the needle over to Chris Clark in the right side circle. Clark then dished the puck back to Green who was driving the net. Green didn't have an opening as he skated past Lunqvist so he put the puck back to Brooks Laich who was trailing him to the net as well. Lundqvist stopped the pass to Laich but couldn't control the puck as Laich buried it into the net through his five hole for his 9th goal of the season. That goal put the Caps up 2-1 which is how the period ended.
During the third period the Caps and Rangers each got 3 chances to score with a man up on the power play. Unfortunately, during the Rangers second power play chance of the evening their Magician, Marian Gaboriak scored on a shot that I venture to guess only one other player on the ice could have taken and scored on with any regularity. It was one of those shots where goaltender Semyon Valamov had to make the percentage choice, he chose correctly but the sniper got it by him anyway - that type of goal that was discussed ad nuseum and intelligently just this afternoon over at Japer's Rink - how's that for irony. In any case it was a beuty, one of those goals where no matter how many times I watch the replay and shake my head and say how did he do that. It was a goal worthy of Ovechkin or Semin; it was a goal the likes of which are why the Rangers went and got Gaboriak from the available free agents this summer. The goal was Gaboiraik's 15th of the season, it tied the game at 2-2 and tied the Ranger Ace with OV for the league lead in goals. It was a tough tightly played period and the Caps hung in and played hard even though they were outshot for the period ( ) the Caps once again outhit the Rangers 14-8. Their determination was no better displayed then at the 15:09 mark Matt Bradley took the puck away from Wade Redden, got a step on him, then used his body to protect the puck and skate in on Henrick Lundvist. Lundqvist dropped his shoulder slight to square up on Brads and the gritty 31 year old winger from Stittsville, Ontario fired his 4th goal of the season into the top shelf of the net like a 50 goal scoring sniper. Brads finished the evening an assist shot of a Gordie Howe hat trick. The Rangers continued to challenge the Caps and tried to tie the game, pulling Lundqvist for the extra skater at the 18:53 mark. They pressed and had the Caps penned into their zone pretty well util the 19:43 mark when Brian Pothier lobbed the puck up to get some fresh bodies on to the ice and ended up getting his third goal unassisted by netting what is listed in the stat sheets as a 165 foot backhand for a goal. The game ended Caps 4 - Rangers 2.
The NY Media voted the three stars of the game as:
1) Alexander Ovechkin
2) Marian Gaboriak
3) Matt Bradley.
All in all not a bad set of Stars of the Game. With a stat line of 1 SOG, 1 Goal Scored, 2 attempts blocked, 4 misses, 7 hits, and 1 takeaway; Ovechkin certainly made his presence in the game felt during the 22 shifts where he logged 19:23 in his return to the lineup after a 6 game hiatus. As the only Ranger to find the back of the net there's no argument with Marian Gaboriak who 24:03 TOI during 27 shifts and led everyone except Mike Green on both teams in ice time tonight. Matt Bradley had 2/3RDs of a "Gordie Howe" including the game winner and also finished the game +1 and had 3 hits as well during his 13:23 TOI, that has to be looked at as a very good game for the 4th liner, I'd bet he got the hard hat tonight but several other guys also put in good nights. After starting out by yielding a goal, Semyon Varlamov out played Lundqvist turing in a save percentage of 0.900 stopping 18 of 20 tonight including a couple of tough saves to keep the Caps in the lead. Brian Pothier had 3 block shots in addition to his empty net goal and played well except for taking a High Sticking minor in the third period. Mike Green's 2 assists, +1, 5 shots on goal and 2 blocked shots in 24: 55 TOI was a solid night "for sure." David Steckel was once again a beast in the faceoff circle (winning 8 of 11); "Stecks" also had 3 shots on goal, 1 attempt blocked and 1 miss - including 2 that were close, it's only a matter of time before the pucks start finding the back of the net for Steckel. Mathieu Perreault won 5 of 7 draws and drew a penalty that resulted in a power play goal for the Caps in just 8:57 TOI.
On the negative side of things per Tariq's blog: "Coach Bruce Boudreau said he thinks Quintin Laing suffered a broken jaw when he was struck in the face by a Michal Rozsival shot in the third period. The team has not provided an official diagnosis yet, but Boudreau said Laing will remain in New York overnight for observation." Here's hoping all is okay with "Q."
Next up Montreal at Verizon Center on Friday evening. Tom has the tickets for that game so I'll be watching once again on the new TV here in Bristow.
LETS GO CAPS!!!!