May 5, 2012, 12:30 AM EDT
On Saturday, the Washington Capitals will host the New York Rangers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal (12:30 pm ET, NBC). The Rangers lead the series 2-1; here’s a look at recent history between the two clubs.
Season series split 2-2.
Nov. 25: New York 6, at Washington 3
Dec. 28: at Washington 4, New York 1
Feb. 12: At New York 3, Washington 2
Apr. 7: Washington 4, at New York 1
Game 1: New York 3, Washington 1
One of the things both teams had in common in the first round is that they blocked a ton of shots. That trend persisted into the series opener. The Capitals and Rangers blocked 14 shots each and they combined for a mere 32 shots on goal.
The lack of action proved to be an unusual challenge for Braden Holtby, who had faced at least 29 shots per game in the first round. He admitted after the contest that it was hard to stay focused.
That didn’t seem to be an issue for Henrik Lundqvist, who turned aside 17 of 18 shots. In the battle between these two defensively adept squads, the Rangers struck first.
Game 2: Washington 3, New York 2
Holtby looked much better in Game 2, but he wasn’t the story of this contest. Alex Ovechkin logged a mere 3:33 minutes of playing time in the first period and was even held off the ice during several offensive zone faceoffs. However, the Capitals had a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, so it was hard to fault coach Dale Hunter for his choice.
The Capitals maintained their one-goal lead until Ryan Callahan found the back of the net at 6:58 of the third period. With the game now tied, the Capitals scrambled to regain their edge. As luck would have it, the Rangers were willing to help them by committing two minor penalties in the span of less than three minutes.
New York successfully killed off the first penalty, but Ovechkin scored his third goal of the playoffs shortly after the Rangers committed their second penalty of the period. Ovechkin still ended up with just 13:36 minutes of playing time, but he made a big difference.
Game 3: New York 2, Washington 1 (3OT)
After 114:41 minutes of playing time, Marian Gaborik finally ended Game 3. The contest took well over four hours to complete.
This match featured several warriors, but none more noteworthy than Ryan McDonagh, who logged a stunning 53:17 minutes of playing time. Marc Staal finished just 26 seconds shy of breaching the 50-minutes mark.
Gaborik’s winner was his first goal since Game 1 of the first round on April 12. After nearly two months of failing to find the back of the net, he might have finally broken out of that slump.
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