OT hero, Jason Chimera (Photo credit: Scott Levy)
It’s already been a storied playoff series between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. One overtime clincher, a tightly wound shutout, a blunder-filled heartbreaker, and now this. In what might have been their most hyped hockey game since the Winter Classic, the Caps blew it big time. But only for about 40 minutes. Then, Bruce Boudreau and his boys revealed the content of their character through a soaring victory in enemy territory.
After yet another scoreless first period, the Rangers’ Artem Anisimov got one past Michal Neuvirth to make it 1-0. In a stretch of seven seconds, the Rangers notched two more via Gaborik and Dubinksy. The Capitals were deep in a 3-0 hole and playing crummy hockey heading into a third period some expected to be dour.
We may never know what happened during that intermission, but I think Bruce Boudreau flipped the gorram switch. Alex Semin pounced on an unsecured puck ‘twixt Henrik Lundqvist’s nethers to start the comeback. Less than a minute later, Brooks Laich hit up Marcus Johansson on the weak side to make it 3-2. And then again MoJo used his body to deflect a John Carlson long bomb for the tying goal.
So we headed into two lengthy overtime periods: an endless grind of nasty hits, exhaustion, and manic penalties. And just when it seemed the Capitals might make their fatal mistake, it was Henrik Lundqvist who couldn’t control a rambunctious puck. And it was Jason freaking Chimera who finally found the back of that utterly crashed net. 92 minutes later. Caps beat Rags 4-3 (OT).
Dodge. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
This could have been the worst game of the year. In the first and second period, the Capitals simply were not playing Capitals hockey. It cost them dearly. Even some die-hard Caps fans had a hard time quelling those cynical and acerbic feelings from bubbling within. Those doubting fans have a new role model in head coach Bruce Boudreau, who generaled his troops with a cool hand after the second. The team that showed up in the third period was disciplined and exacting, driving pucks inexorably towards Lundvist’s net. The bad hits the Rangers had been leveling so viciously began to roll off the Caps’ shoulders. Once Alex Semin struck, we were treated to a parade of spectacular(ly ugly) hockey and those woefully missed hockey grins.
I want to leave you with a question: What do you think happened during that second intermission? Was it an F-bomb-laden tirade, a solemn speech with heads hung, or a inspiring address delivered like St. Crispin’s Day but with more bumbling? Please answer below.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.
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