After Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth achieved his first shutout in the NHL playoffs, the Capitals will go into New York City with a 2-0 series lead
with a 2-0 victory over the Rangers in Game 2 of the playoffs.
In Game 1, the Capitals played solid defense, and matched the physicality of the Rangers. The Caps did exactly the same tonight and more. Although the Caps were outhit by one hit tonight, the Caps were still able to block more shots than the Rangers, getting 25 blocked shots to the Rangers’ 15 shots.
Most importantly, the Capitals obtained a power play goal while not allowing any: another one of the keys to winning the series for Washington. The second period was where all the scoring occurred, and after grinder Jason Chimers scored two minutes into the second period, the Caps took advantage of the momentum. The Capitals on their second power play received a nice gift from the “Sasha-Whisperer” (otherwise known as the tamer of Alex Semin), Jason Arnott to gain a 2-0 lead over the Rangers.
After the Arnott goal, the Capitals played stifling defense for the rest of the way and was able to hold the Rangers to no goals for Neuvirth’s second playoff win and first shutout of the playoffs in his career.
While Washington is pleased with the last two results of the series, especially after the last few years where the Caps have failed to play well on a consistent basis early on in the playoffs in previous years, the Capitals are aware of what the Rangers can do as a tough eighth seed.
“We have to keep pushing,” said Chimera, the Caps first goal-scorer. “By no means is it done. When the hammer’s down, you gotta keep on going. They can easily steal two there and come back and tie it.”
The Caps head coach, Bruce Boudreau, noted that the Rangers come very hard at the first period. Boudreau admits that the fact that the Caps actually scored was the difference-maker, and insinuates that his players on the Caps would need to do hold that attitude throughout the early portion of the game on Sunday in New York in order to get the win.
“That’s how they’re going to come out in their building,” said Boudreau, anticipating the next match. “And so we’d better not sit back like that. If we do we’re going to be in trouble.”
Caps fans are familiar with the idea of “choking” and the Capitals cannot afford to lose this series now if they aim to be taken seriously ever again. While Washington would need two more wins before claiming themselves victors, they are currently in the right place to establish themselves if they can continue the play they have put on for the road in terms of wins and if they can keep the gameplay up.
Most importantly, the goal by Arnott was a power play goal and that gave Arnott himself and the team an extra boost that they were unable to have against the Rangers all season long. Washington scored on just its fifth opportunity with the extra man this post season, and it gave them that extra confidence to hold the line. Mike Green, who was out for a lengthy period of time has recorded two assists (one on this power play) and been a +1 defenseman since his return in Game 1. To have this weapon back for Washington’s power play.
The Caps did not score a power play goal since Game 4 of the Montreal/Washington series last season, so to be able to take that elephant out of the room with Arnott’s goal was huge for the Capitals. As well as the Caps playing well offensively on the power play, the Caps penalty kill has remained perfect to this point. Whether a change in venue will affect the Caps ability to work well will be determined soon. Either way, the team will need to make sure the past of losing 2-0 series leads will not haunt them.
The next game between the two will be Sunday afternoon on NBC in New York. The Capitals here will look to go up 3-0 in the series.