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Poor effort dethrones Lundqvist

- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 25, 2009

All series, the Washington Capitals have emphasized the need to get traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Get deflections, set screens - do whatever it takes to ensure the New York Rangers' All-Star goaltender can't see the puck coming at him.

"If he sees it, he's probably gonna stop it," Caps center Boyd Gordon said Friday morning. "That's the way it's been all series."

That's not the way it was in Game 5 on Friday night.

Lundqvist could see the shots; he just couldn't stop them. He allowed four goals on 14 shots and was chased from the game after two periods in favor of backup Stephen Valiquette.

"I know I have to play better in order to win the series," Lundqvist said. "A lot of times, it starts with me. It's tough when we get a start like that in the first period."

That start was an inauspicious one. Caps wing Matt Bradley scored a short-handed breakaway goal on the first shot of the game at 4:58. Bradley came back with another one at 12:07, scoring from a nearly impossible angle by sneaking the puck between Lundqvist's pad and the right post. Lundqvist could only call that one a "brutal goal."

It was a brutal night for a goalie who had stopped 141 of the 149 shots he faced in the series' first four games. As for why he pulled Lundqvist after the second period, Rangers coach John Tortorella said the decision was simple.

"We were down 4-0; we were going nowhere," he said. "Why keep Hank in there? [Valiquette] did a good job."

Valiquette made saves on all seven shots he faced, but by then it was too late for the Rangers to salvage the game. Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said the atypical performance from Lundqvist could portend a much different effort in Game 6.

"Every great goalie every now and again makes a mistake," he said. "The thing that worried me about that was when I saw [the second goal] go in. I said, 'Oh, he's gonna be great the next game' - because usually they bounce right back and are great. I anticipate him being great on Sunday."

Tortorella's incident

Tortorella got into an altercation with a fan sitting behind the team's bench in the third period. Tortorella threw a water bottle into the seats and grabbed one of his players' sticks during the incident.

At some point, there was a liquid spilled on the coach between the panes of glass that separate the players from the fans. Tortorella was restrained by Rangers assistant and former Caps coach Jim Schoenfeld.

"Ask me a question about the game," Tortorella said afterward. "That has nothing to do with the game."

When pressed, Tortorella responded, "Ask me a question about the game, please." Rangers vice president of public relations John Rosasco said, "Another one on that and we're done, OK?"

After the incident, Tortorella had to wipe the liquid off his suit jacket with a towel. The game was delayed a few minutes as security personnel entered the area behind the bench.

"When I looked over, Torts was turned and facing the crowd and might've got sprayed or something from a fan," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "But I'm not completely sure; I haven't really talked to anybody about it yet."

Odds and ends

Caps captain Chris Clark was on the ice for pregame warmups but was a healthy scratch for the fifth time this series. Michael Nylander was out of the lineup for the third straight game. ...

With Sean Avery out of the lineup, Aaron Voros played for the second time in the series. He and Colton Orr earned 10-minute misconduct penalties with 5:46 left.