We knew that the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers were not unfamiliar with the task of facing each other in the playoffs. Throughout the past five seasons, the Capitals and Rangers have squared off in four different series in the postseason. The Capitals have taken two of them, while the Rangers got the last laugh after eliminating the Capitals by defeating them in the Eastern Conference semifinals in the 2012 playoffs.
After Washington took Game 1 on Thursday at the Verizon Center, the Rangers came back determined to take Game 2 on Saturday. Or at least Henrik Lundqvist did.
It was a complete goaltender’s duel. Braden Holtby turned aside all 24 shots faced. Lundqvist turned aside 37, but was unable to stop Mike Green’s blistering slap shot on a power play in overtime, as the Capitals topped the Rangers 1-0 and took a 2-0 series lead on the Rangers.
It isn’t as if the chances weren’t there for the Rangers to close out the game. They received a power play opportunity late in the third period but were unable to manage a shot on goal on the chance.
After a controversial no-call on a potential delay of game on Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner with less than a minute left in the third period, the “Hockey Gods” struck back. Another Capitals defenseman, Steve Oleksy, clearly flipped the puck over the glass early into the overtime frame, giving the Rangers another chance to close out the Capitals and take an even series back to the Garden.
Instead, they failed to capitalize yet again. Minutes later, Rangers defensemen Ryan McDonough was penalized for the exact same call, as he illegally flipped a puck off the ice in his own defensive zone.
Seconds after Lundqvist denied Troy Brouwer on a breakaway, Mike Ribeiro fed Green for the game-winning strike.
Both goalies looked nearly impeccable. It was the type of game that you knew was going to be a low scoring affair from the get-go.
Holtby joined Jonas Hiller and Marc-Andre Fleury as the only goalies to notch shutouts thus far in the 2013 postseason. Holtby’s 0.983 save percentage and 0.47 goals against average are both good for tops amongst playoff goaltenders to this point in the playoffs.
With the way it has been going through the first two games, it seems like there is plenty of more hockey to be played until you can give any team a big edge to advance.
As for now, the Capitals have put themselves in a prime position to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the third consecutive year. If they beat the Rangers two more times in the series, they will find themselves one step closer to Lord Stanley.
Matt Schreiber is the Florida Panthers Lead Writer for The Hockey Writers. He grew up just outside of Washington, DC before moving to Boca Raton, FL, where he currently resides. He also covers the NHL for Bleacher Report.