It was a wild and noisy start at the Garden. Yelling and chants of "Boudreau Sucks!" drowned out John Amarante's traditional performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner," and those calls continued into the first period. The Rangers fans have come ready to yell tonight. You don't ever want to challenge a bunch of hockey-mad New Yorkers, I think is the lesson to be learned here. The Washington fans have something to try and match in Game 5 Saturday.
As a Ranger power play ended early in the second period, another good Ranger bounce gave them the game's first tally. Michael Sauer took a shot that was guided past Chris Drury and wide. Artem Anisimov simply banked off a combination of Matt Hendricks' leg and Michal Neuvirth and into the net at 5:24. It was eerily similar to the goal Ruslan Fedotenko almost scored and had wiped out by the clock in Sunday's Game 3. It was Anisimov's first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal to make it 1-0 Rangers for the third time in four games.
The Rangers dominated the rest of the second period, with the Capitals often looking marooned on an island. The Rangers got their second goal as Ruslan Fedotenko took away the puck from John Carlson behind the net and came around in front. He found Marian Gaborik alone at the side of the net for essentially a slam dunk. It was Gaborik's long-awaited and almost demanded first goal of the series at 6:20, and they led 2-0.
On the very next rush, Ruslan Fedotenko hit the outside of the net with a shot. He sent a Hail Mary of a centering pass out to anyone on-coming. It found Brandon Dubinsky, and he found the net. The Rangers had only scored more than one goal in a game once in this series, and they got two in seven seconds to make it 3-0 at 6:27. The Garden was certainly audible at that moment. The Rangers were playing their best period of the series, and if the Sharks hadn't played their second period last night, maybe best of the playoffs.
Towards the end of the second period, the crowd became even more nuts, as it appears that Bruce Boudreau's attempt to deflect attention from his team's play in Game 3 has backfired. The chant from the crowd at the old, cylindrical building roared "Can you hear us!" for a solid minute toward their enemy. It would be hard to imagine him not being able to.
Early in the third, things started to change. Ryan McDonagh turned the puck over to Alexander Semin, the shot went off Henrik Lundqvist, rolled behind him onto the line. Lundqvist attempted to cover, but lost control, and Semin found the puck lying on the line and put it home. Lundqvist protested that the whistle should have been blow, and the referees went to the War Room for a video review, but in the end it was determined we had a good goal. It was Semin's second of the series to give the Capitals some life.
The Capitals struck again quickly, in similar fashion to when the Rangers got their two tallies in seven seconds. On the next shift, Marcus Johansson came in and threw an errant pass across Brooks Laich. Laich eventually gathered the puck and threw it in front, where Johansson remarkably tipped it in past Lundqvist to make it 3-2. Two goals in 57 seconds for Washington, and Johansson's first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal made it a game again. Rangers coach John Tortorella quickly called timeout.
After what many fans felt was a missed penalty call on the Capitals at one end, the Rangers ended up taking a penalty of their own mid-way through the third. Sean Avery slashed Alexander Ovechkin to give the Capitals another power play. Despite some good pressure from the Capitals, the Rangers killed it off. But seconds later, the Capitals set-up John Carlson for a rocket of a shot that beat Henrik Lundqvist to tie it 3-3. For the second consecutive night, a big lead falls in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Johansson tipped it for his second of the game at 12:07.
Shortly after, Boyd Gordon took a tripping penalty. At 12:48, the Rangers had their chance to get the lead back quickly, much like Los Angeles had against the Sharks for a brief time last night. The Rangers were unable to score, leaving the game still tied headed down the stretch. Neither team could get a goal in the final 8:53, and after a wild one, we were headed to a second overtime game in this series.
In overtime, both teams played it very close to the vest. It was unlike the overtime in the first game, which saw a lot of spurts of play in each teams zones, it was very up and down, but each team was covering well. Henrik Lundqvist and Michal Neuvirth had a solid early overtime. Both defenses shored up quite a bit after each team had a three-goal period earlier. All the stars were close-watched. The only real big early chance was when Brandon Dubinsky ran into a referee on what could've been a 2-on-0 with Gaborik.
Then, nearly 11 minutes in, every hockey fan on earth got the situation they wanted. Alexander Ovechkin got sprung on a break-away against Henrik Lundqvist all alone. Time stopped. Ovechkin went glove. Lundvist made the same. You have to wonder if, going forward, that will be what springs on the Rangers tonight. It's certainly the biggest save of the night if New York wins it. For Lundqvist, it was a reminder of just how good he can be, especially after a period where he was average, and downright porous.
Derek Stepan nearly put himself in hockey hell at 14:44. He took a dreaded "playing the puck over the glass" delay of game penalty. The Capitals had another huge chance to win it. They spent a full minute in the Rangers zone before New York could get it out once. The Rangers were finally able to kill it off, and Derek Stepan does not join the hall of shame at the Garden with what could have been a penalty that destroyed them. The Rangers survived the rest of overtime, however, and so did the Capitals, and we had our first double overtime of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Double overtime began with another surge from Washington. Alexander Ovechkin went 1-on-1 with Marc Staal, and nearly climbed over him to get a shot away. He did, somehow, but Henrik Lundqvist made the save. Then, on a Jason Chimera shot, Lundqvist had a shot go right off his mask. There was a brief delay to make sure everything alright, and Lundqvist and the game kept going on. The shot off of his masked was the 50th the Caps had fired on goal for the night.
The Capitals fell into trouble for the first time at 14:39, and it was an equally embarrassing penalty. The Capitals took a bench minor for too many men on the ice, putting the Rangers on their seventh power play of the game. Yet again, the Rangers were unable to capitalize on the Capitals being a man down. They fell to 0-for-7 on the night, Ovechkin -serving the bench minor - came out of the box, and the second overtime kept going.
Then, something I don't think I've ever seen happen ... happened. The puck scooted in on a clear-in play and it headed toward Henrik Lundqvist's net. Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik and Bryan McCabe converged, with Jason Chimera of the Capitals following. Gaborik got to it first, cleared it right into the attacker Hendricks (he had tried to send it behind the net or into the corner) and Jason Chimera, already behind Lundqvist, had a tap-in. It was one of the strangest, most disheartening ends to a Stanley Cup Playoff game imaginable. It'll take all but a miracle for the Rangers to recover. But they have no one to feel sorry for but themselves, after letting a 3-0 lead slip. Full credit to the Caps for coming back to win it.