The New York Rangers sit one game away from elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs after the Washington Capitals prevailed 2-1 in a hard-fought game at the Verizon Center Wednesday.
The Caps now have a 3-1 series lead going into Friday’s game at Madison Square Garden. The team’s third line – affectionately nicknamed “The Killer B’s” – was key to success with 20-year-old rookie Andre Burakovsky scoring both Washington goals. Derick Brassard scored earlier to put the Rangers up 1-0.
Burakovsky was a healthy scratch when the postseason started with Eric Fehr the first choice. However, Fehr was injured in Game 3 of the Caps’ first round series against the New York Islanders, so “Barracuda” got his chance to make a name for himself. He did so admirably and later revealed that he’d scored Wednesday against his childhood hero, Henrik Lundqvist.
“Obviously he’s been my favorite goalie since I grew up,” said Burakovsky. “He’s kind of close to my hometown so I’ve been watching him my whole life. It’s a pretty special moment for me to score two goals on Lundqvist in such an important game as this.” His goals were Burakovsky’s first ever playoff goals.
The Capitals now have depth, and they’re proving that any line can score. Clearly, the Rangers are weary of the Caps’ first line and its superstar Alex Ovechkin, but probably have not looked at too much film of Burakovsky or fellow rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov (who’s been on fire in both postseason series). And that’s the difference with this Capitals team – there is no missing piece to the puzzle in 2014-15 – success is theirs for the taking.
That “Killer B’s” third line is stinging the Rangers’ defense on a regular basis. Burakovsky, Jay Beagle and Troy Brouwer are exceeding expectations in the postseason.
“We want to be the difference every night,” Brouwer said after Wednesday’s game. “That’s what our line prides themselves itself on.”
It also doesn’t hurt that goaltender Braden Holtby is having a career-best season. He pulled off some amazing stops in his 28-save Game 4 tally – including a penalty shot by Carl Hagelin. Holtby’s glove save was a work of art and certainly demoralizing for Hagelin and the Rangers because a goal would have evened the score at 2-2.
Members of the Washington Nationals were in attendance Wednesday, and with them, the Washington Wizards and the Capitals all on fire and enjoying winning seasons of late, anybody new to the nation’s capital must wonder why its football team is held in such high regard (see the number of Redskins winning seasons since 1992 for more details).
— Brooks Laich (@brookslaich) May 7, 2015
Perhaps this is the year that DC’s red-headed stepchild sport gets the admiration it deserves. The Washington Capitals are the real deal. Watch this space.