Troy Brouwer missed from point-blank range. Alex Ovechkin clanked his shot off the right post. Dennis Wideman rung one off the left post. Brian Boyle inadvertently used his backside to block Mike Rupp’s attempt with a wide-open net.
So many blown opportunities to end the game by the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers through over 110 minutes of hockey. At the end, it was one shot from Marian Gaborik that gave the Rangers a 2-1 victory in triple overtime in Game 3 on Wednesday night at Verizon Center and a two games to one lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
“You just have to use your chances. One chance. One chance. They have it and they scored,” Ovechkin said. “Unfortunately, we have before that three-on-two, four-on-two, and we didn’t use it.”
Players on both sides had plenty of reasons to kick themselves, had they not been so tired from a game that didn’t end until 12:14 a.m.
“That’s extremely, extremely disappointing. Whenever you lose in overtime, it sucks, but when you lose in triple overtime, it’s even worse,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We had so many chances and they either blocked it or [Henrik] Lundqvist came up with the save, or we hit a post. That just makes it even more frustrating.”
The emotions were hard to judge after the Caps and Rangers went through a historically long game. It was the third-longest game in Washington franchise history and fifth-longest in New York’s.
“Both teams went through it. It’s a game where they both played the same minutes, same players, same game,” Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. “We’re always in the same boat. So it’s just another game then.”
Not just another game. Not by a long shot. The impact of this one, from the missed chances to the physical and emotional fatigue, will be felt well into Game 4 and beyond.
Brouwer’s miss in open ice at 4:46 of the first overtime stuck out as a moment the Caps should’ve wrapped this one up before it became a marathon. Matt Hendricks stole the puck from Ryan McDonagh behind the net, and Lundvqist wasn’t even aware Brouwer had it lined up.
He simply missed the net.
“Frustration. Frustration for me. I was in tight. I was trying to get it up, and it just happened to roll over my stick,” Brouwer said. “I got to at least get it on net, give it a chance to go in.”
Later in that session, the Capitals looked so much like they had the game on an Ovechkin game-winner that the horn went on at Verizon Center and the spotlight descended on the captain. But it was clearly off the post and out.
After plenty of power bars, bananas and orange slices, the Caps and Rangers played long enough to push Metro’s closing time back an hour.
“One bounce and that’s it. It’s over. I don’t know what to elaborate on. It went back and forth and they got the last opportunity and they capitalized,” right wing Joel Ward. “Any game is fun to play in playoffs. It sucks [when] you lose. That’s just the nature of the beast.”
It took a physical toll, too. The teams combined to put 95 shots on net and combined to block 81 more.
“You look around the ice and probably half the players on the ice have blood on their jersey by the end of it. Some of our guys did; some of their guys did,” Brooks Laich said. “It’s a grinding game. That’s the way it’s going to go. We weren’t able to get the goal tonight, but it’s not going to deter us.”