Alex Ovechkin was great in the third period. Sean Avery was stupid. It didn’t matter, because of another outstanding effort by Henrik Lundqvist. “King Henrik” stopped 38 shots to tie a career-high in the playoffs, and the No. 7-seeded Rangers are one win from sending the Caps home early for a second straight season.
Why is it tough to fathom that the Rangers have won 3 of 4 games in this series? Consider …
— The Rangers have scored seven goals in four games, one less than the Caps.
— The Caps have outshot the Rangers 149-99 in the series.
— Alex Ovechkin has 35 shots.
— Sean Avery seems dertermined to help the Caps. Does judiciary czar Colin Campbell suspend Avery for Game 5 after four shots to the head after the whistle in two games, including two with his stick, or does New York coach John Tortorella sit him?
As for some more notes and quotes from the aftermath:
* Ovechkin was one period from being grilled by everyone for being 0-for-4 in the series and not having his best effort in the team’s biggest game of the year.
Then he went out and was downright heroic in the final 20 minutes. Don’t know if it showed up on the home broadcast, but Ovechkin was very animated on the bench before the start of the third period, and then he nearly carried his team back from a 2-0 hole.
“He’s our best, he’s the best player in the league and the best player on the planet,” defenseman Brian Pothier said. “That’s what we expect from him and that’s just another night for Alex.”
* The Caps have eight goals in four games in this series. Ovechkin has had a hand in five of them. Alexander Semin has had a hand in five of them. Nicklas Backstrom has had a hand in four of them.
Here’s the breakdown for the rest of the team:
Mike Green (2)
Tomas Fleischmann (1)
Viktor Kozlov (1)
Sergei Fedorov (1)
Brooks Laich (1)
Brian Pothier (1, he didn’t play in Game 1)
John Erskine (1)
Tom Poti (1)
That’s it. There are 11 skaters who have played who are pointless.
“Somebody’s going to have to score on this guy,” Boudreau said. “We’re not looking for secondary scoring – we need everybody to step up to try and score in this guy.”
* Kudos to Simeon Varalmov for being willing to talk after the game. The kid had a tough break on one goal. The other was his fault — handling the puck is clearly his biggest weakness at this point. Boudreau pointed to his near-disaster seconds before the goal when he put the puck off the side of his net when he tried to wrap it around the boards — maybe Varalmov lost his composure for a brief period.
“I tried twice to squeeze it and fix it, but I couldn’t do it and dropped it,” Varlamov said through an interpreter. “If it were to haunt me, I would have [allowed] a third and fourth goal. Hockey is such a game that if you make a mistake you have to forget about it and move on.”
It is hard not to like his chances of being an elite guy in the coming years. He is passing every test along the way here.
* Chris Drury has had a tough series because of a hand/wrist injury, but he now has 17 postseason game-winners — that’s tied for fifth in NHL history.