The Washington Capitals proved they can score goals against one of the leagues stingiest teams in their postseason opener.
They didn’t ease the concerns about their ability to prevent them and lost home-ice advantage in the process.
Brandon Dubinsky scored midway through the final period, and the seventh-seeded New York Rangers upended the second-seeded Caps with a 4-3 victory Wednesday night at sold-out Verizon Center in Game 1 of a Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Washington had fallen behind by two goals, but a late tally in the second period and Alexander Semins early in the third knotted the score at 3-3. With the Caps on the power play, Mike Green’s blast from the top of the zone went wide, and Alex Ovechkin backhanded it from a bad angle at Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The goalie couldn’t handle it, and Semin was there to bang home the loose puck at 1:42.
It was not the opening performance Theodore was hoping for. He yielded four goals on 21 shots.
After a scoreless first period, the Caps went ahead with a power-play goal. Ovechkin and Green worked a give-and-go at the points, and after Ovechkin kicked the puck to his stick. His quick shot was redirected by Tomas Fleischmann past Lundqvist at 6:40 of the second.
New York responded with a trio of tallies to forge a two-goal advantage. Scott Gomez broke in alone on goaltender Jose Theodore — with an assist from Sean Avery tripping Green near the blue line — and leveled the score 69 seconds after Ovechkin’s goal.
The Rangers had the second-worst power play in the NHL this season, but they converted two chances in the middle period. Nik Antropov faked a shot from the outside of the right circle, then took one more stride toward the net before ripping a shot into the top left corner of the net at 16:49.
Sergei Fedorov went to the box for Washington’s second puck-over-the-glass infraction, and Markus Naslund took a drop pass from Gomez and snapped one just under the crossbar at 18:28 of the period.
The Caps dominated play in the opening 20 minutes but were unable to solve Lundqvist. Washington outshot the New York 14-4, and Ovechkin had a six-pack of shots and hits, but the Caps failed to take advantage of a pair of power-play opportunities and went to the dressing room in a scoreless tie.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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