The Washington Capitals had the opportunity to advance to round two of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, by putting the New York Rangers on the brink of elimination heading into Sunday afternoon. A win at Madison Square Garden, would have secured that second round spot and sent the Blue Shirts to the golf course.
The Rangers defeated the Capitals however, by a final score of 1-0, sending both clubs back to the District of Columbia for yet, another game seven between these two clubs.
18,506 fans arrived at the Verizon Center in Downtown, DC last evening, with high hopes that the Washington Capitals would put the game six loss behind them and play the style of hockey that was successful throughout the course of the shortened 2012-13 season and much of this best of seven series.
Capitals Nation, which formed it’s 181st consecutive sellout, was not that fortunate. The Capitals may have showed up for the first period of action, but allowed five unanswered goals throughout the course of the game, handing the New York Rangers the key to round two, after a 5-0 blowout was in the books.
“Quite honestly, it’s tough to explain,” Head Coach Adam Oates said to reporters after the loss. “It’s funny how over the years the seventh game turns into some form of blowout. I wish I had an answer for that. Obviously, we pushed very hard in the first period, even made a lot of great saves. They got a lucky one and every bounce seemed to go their way after that.”
The Capitals pushed hard indeed, playing a hard fought 10-12 minutes before the Rangers 4th line cashed in off the blade of tough guy Arron Asham.
From that point on, momentum shifted, sticks were gripped tightly and the red wagon started falling a part quickly, piece by piece.
“Momentum of the game shifted the other way, they went down and got a lucky shot,” said veteran defenseman Mike Green. “Kind of took the wind out of our sails but we had lot’s of time to come back.”
During the first period, Captain Alex Ovechkin laid everything on the line for the Red Shirts, dishing out six hits, three in which seemed questionable and were a result of non calls.
Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was on the receiving end of one of Ovechkin’s hits, and would need to be treated for gashes on several areas on his face after it met the boards head on.
It was the Capitals captain being himself though and trying to do everything in his power to help advance his hockey club to the next round.
“It’s very frustrating,” Ovechkin said following the disturbing loss. “That’s the whole point. You’re here to win the games and try to win the Cup.”
Frustrating is a good word right about now. Especially when the Capitals will be conducting season ending physicals over the next few days and cleaning out their stalls at Verizon Center and Kettler Iceoplex, instead of competing in round two.
“Everyone was up for the game,” Goaltender Braden Holtby said. “We just needed to play better, myself especially. We had a chance to win, but it’s in the past now.”
In the past it is and so begins another long off-season for the Washington Capitals.
The good news is, Head Coach Adam Oates will be able to fully communicate with his players in the off-season, and have an entire agenda full-filled prior to the start of the 2013 pre-season.
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Darren is the Washington Capitals correspondent. He spent the 2010-11 season covering the Atlanta Thrashers and the 2011-12 season covering the Columbus Blue Jackets. Feel free to contact him @ DKoz256@yahoo.com. You can also follow him on Twitter. DarrenCoslov