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The Rangers may have won Game 3 in triple overtime, but they taxed their defensemen heavily to get the victory. Does that give the Capitals an edge heading into Game 4?
We saw this before in Washington DC, as a Caps fan just shook his head after his team dropped Game 6 to the Bruins. And now we have a second agony of defeat moment, courtesy of the Caps once again.
Look closely behind the celebration. All he can do is slam his hand against the glass. Also note the celebrating Rangers fan behind him.
On the plus side, at least he didn't Stoudemire himself.
The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers battled to a draw through two overtimes as a game that began on Wednesday stretched into the early hours of Thursday morning. Finally, with just over five minutes to go in triple overtime, Marian Gaborik broke the tie, beating Braden Holtby and giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
Ryan Callahan opened the scoring for New York on the power play at the 6:41 mark of the second. Michael Del Zotto's shot redirected off the legs of John Carlson and Matt Hendricks before falling right in front of the net, where Callahan was able to pick it up, spin and easily toss it in the back of the net.
Carlson redeemed himself 4:29 later with a great individual effort in the offensive zone. He lost the puck off his stick but kept with the play as Marc Staal tried to bat the loose puck away. It hit Carlson in the midsection, then fell back in front of Carlson, who picked it up, danced to the front and roofed a shot over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist.
WASHINGTON -- Let's just run through some stats real quick. These are the ice-time numbers after 100 minutes of play in Game 2.
New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh has played 48:02. In that time, he's blocked eight shots, given the puck away four times, taken it away once, taken nine shots towards the net -- three on goal, four which were blocked and two missed -- and he's dished out two hits. He also received one big, big hit from Matt Hendricks.
Marc Staal has played 42:41 in ice time for John Tortorella. Michael Del Zotto is up to 37-plus minutes, and Dan Girardi is just under 39 minutes. Anton Stralman has played a modest 25:18 in the game, as the Rangers have clearly just rolled their top-four defensemen. You don't need to tell Stu Bickel that; he's seen just 3:24 of ice time.
On the Washington side, things are much more evenly spread out. The fourth line of Mike Knuble, Keith Aucoin and Joel Ward has played about 15 minutes in total and, as you'd expect, haven't seen much ice in overtime. But on defense, Dale Hunter is definitely rolling six defensemen. Dennis Wideman has played 36:19, Karl Alzner has played 30:53, Roman Hamrlik has played 33:12, Mike Green has played 32:24, Jeff Schultz has played 29:15 and John Carlson has 34:22.
If the Capitals win this game, they'll have done so without overly taxing their top defensemen. Luckily for the Rangers, there are two full days off until Game 4 on Saturday, but if a 50-plus minute night from a defenseman goes without reward, that's certainly bad news.
WASHINGTON -- Brian Boyle left the ice at the end of the first overtime period in Game 3 after taking a shot from Alexander Semin in the face. Boyle returned to the bench to start double overtime, so he's probably not hurt too badly.
But hey, that's overtime in the playoffs. You know that there's a chance that puck hits you in the face every time you go down to block a shot, and Boyle paid the price this time. Nothing a few stitches and a trip to the dentist can't fix up, though.
WASHINGTON -- It was an unlucky bounce, but that's the way it goes in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Ryan Callahan put the New York Rangers up 1-0 with a power-play goal at the 6:41 mark of the second period. Positioned in front of the net on the man advantage, Callahan watched as a shot from Michael Del Zotto took a pinball-like bounce off two Caps before popping out right behind him.
All the Rangers captain had to do was grab the puck, spin and fire it into the back of the cage to give his team the lead.
The Caps didn't stay down for long, though, and it was John Carlson, the unlucky soul who had the puck bounce off his leg before reaching Callahan on the New York goal, who redeemed himself with a great individual effort.
Carlson knotted the score at 1-1 after losing the puck in the slot and regathering it following Marc Staal knocked it back into his midsection. After corralling the puck, Carlson was able to rip a shot over the blocker-side shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist.
WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin is getting his ice time in the first period of Game 3, and on one of his seven first-period shifts in particular, he came to play. First, he kicked a loose puck onto his skates and fed a charging Marcus Johansson on a beautiful feed through two defenders ...
... and then, on the same shift, he laid a mean hit on Marc Staal in the offensive zone.
He's arguably the most talented player on the Caps (a title that, not too long ago, was not argued). When he puts in shifts like this, Ovechkin is one of the best players in the world and a reason the Caps should be feared in this postseason. Ovechkin's 7:35 of ice time in the first, for the record, was roughly half of the time he saw in all of Game 2.
Another reason? Braden Holtby. The goaltender had another fine period to start Game 3, and while he wasn't challenged all that much aside from a few shots from beyond the faceoff dots, one quick kick save on this Ruslan Fedotenko shot from 12 feet out was calm, composed and impressive.
The Rangers weren't able to threaten too much in the period, as it seemed the Capitals owned the neutral zone and controlled the tempo. New York did kill a two minute slashing penalty against Staal in the final five minutes of the period.
WASHINGTON -- The Capitals came out firing in the early going of Game 3 at Verizon Center, controlling the pace and racking up a number of quality scoring chances in the opening 10 minutes of play. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was peppered with a number of shots from the perimeter out near the blue line, but the Caps were able to garner at least three solid scoring opportunities in the opening several minutes.
New York settled in a bit thereafter with some offensive zone time, but of their four shots on goal as of the 10:37 mark of the first period, Braden Holtby has been able to see them all. In transition, the Rangers defense has been caught pinching at the blue line multiple times, and it's created some dangerous rushes for Washington.
The Washington Capitals will host the New York Rangers on Wednesday night. Their Eastern Conference semifinal series is knotted at 1-1.