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2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Game Over Green gives Caps OT win over Rangers
Defenseman scores power-play goal to ensure 2-0 series lead
Mike Green had enough time to drop to one knee and pump his right fist before Mike Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin mobbed him between the tops of the two faceoff circles Saturday afternoon. Soon the red mass of humanity slid to the boards, as Verizon Center came unglued. The defenseman, who so often has been the Washington Capitals’ overtime hero, had done it again, this time on a postseason stage.
Green one-timed a slap shot past New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s glove eight minutes into overtime to give Washington a deserved 1-0 victory in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
“We got the puck in the right guy’s hands in overtime,” Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said. “He doesn’t miss those very often.”
Green’s eighth career overtime goal and first overtime playoff winner earned Washington a 2-0 series lead and kept its home ice advantage ahead of Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The Capitals were in this position two seasons ago and went on to beat the Rangers four games to one in the quarterfinals.
“It was an emotional game, so for us to come out on top gives us a little bit more momentum going up there, which was important,” Green said.
Green’s power-play goal preserved Holtby’s first shutout in 16 postseason games. Holtby faced 24 shots but few quality scoring chances. Washington outshot New York 38-24.
Rangers forward Rick Nash hit the outside of the left post with 3:48 remaining in regulation. Defender Anton Stralman did the same about four minutes into the game. Other than that, though, Holtby enjoyed a relatively stress-free afternoon.
“It wasn’t a very straining game on a goalie,” he said. “That’s all the credit to our team, especially our defensive effort. I know I can be better. There are a couple plays that could have went in, and I’ll work on those.”
The Capitals’ penalty kill earned special mention after preserving the tie early in overtime.
The Rangers didn’t get a shot on goal during their overtime power play. Washington defender Steve Oleksy flipped the puck over the glass and was penalized for delay of game, but forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Eric Fehr each blocked shots during the ensuing kill.
Fehr’s sliding block of Derick Brassard’s slap shot earned a standing ovation from the home crowd. Overall, New York totaled only two shots on goal on its three power plays Saturday.
“This might have been our best PK game all year,” Holtby said. “I think we’re just keeping it simple now. The main thing is you have to be calm on it. You want to be aggressive, but once you start running around, you get out of place. Simplify, know your job, and guys are doing a tremendous job of it right now.”
Rangers coach John Tortorella attributed his team’s lack of power play success to a lack of movement. They are scoreless on seven power plays this series.
“We’re just too stagnant,” he said. “We’re almost paralyzed.”
If the Capitals had lost, they would have rued several unfinished quality scoring chances. They moved Lundqvist laterally with some well-timed cross-crease passes but didn’t beat him.
Backstrom’s shot from close range late in the second period hit the inside of Lundqvist’s right leg but barely went wide of the goal.
Midway through the second, Marcus Johansson had the puck on his stick in front of an open goal after receiving a pass from Alex Ovechkin. The pass was a bit behind him, though, and he took two touches while Lundqvist slid left into position to make the save.
“He’s pretty deep in the net,” Backstrom said. “He has really good reaction, I think.”
It wasn’t good enough, though, to stop Green’s slap shot.
Washington went up a man because New York defender Ryan McDonagh put the puck over the glass and was called for delay of game.
About 50 seconds into the power play, Ribeiro faked a slap shot from the right point, prompting two Rangers defensemen to go low to try to block it. That freed Green for a shot in the middle.
Ribeiro “does such a great job of drawing guys to him, and obviously, they’re on Ovi, so I just happened to be open,” said Green, who beat the Rangers in overtime for the fourth time in his eight-year career. “My goal was just to get it by that first guy and try to hit the net.”
He did better than that, and the Caps have a two-game lead to show for it.
“It’s a reason I don’t want Mike to try too hard to be a scorer during the game because we need him to have the poise back there at a key moment when it’s a big power play, the place is going crazy, there’s electricity.” coach Adam Oates said. “You need your guys out there who are calm, and that’s one of his gifts.”
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