Poised after 40 minutes to make this a series and ensure a Game 5 Saturday at Verizon Center, the Washington Capitals needed less than a minute to melt down.
Several hours before he even stepped onto the ice Saturday, Karl Alzner was getting chirped. Someone on Twitter sent him a message asking if he and the Capitals were ready to choke again.
No team sport has more of a dual personality than hockey. If the NHL regular season is "Semi-Tough," then the playoffs are "There Will Be Blood." You're talking about a whole different kind of physicality this time of year — as the Capitals and New York Rangers are illustrating.
Forget about the statistics for a moment. Yes, almost 90 percent of NHL teams that have won the first two games of a playoff series at home have gone on to win.
Marco Sturm wanted the pressure. As the No. 1 seed, he said even with a lead in the series the onus was on the Capitals in Game 2 – because there’s a world of difference between being up two games to none and being tied with the Rangers.
A one-goal lead seems so much bigger for the Capitals these days the way they’re tending to defensive business. And two goals, that’s a veritable mountain – as the Rangers learned to their dismay Friday night at Verizon Center.
The Capitals carried a streak into Friday's Game 2 that they wanted no part of: They had gone 19 straight power play chances in the playoffs without lighting the lamp, dating back to last year's playoff upset at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.
The Capitals can't wipe out decades of playoff pain all at once. They have to do it one game at a time. The math is pretty simple: Four wins get you to the next round; 16 get you the Stanley Cup.
Bruce Boudreau couldn't sense if Alexander Semin was feeling any pressure heading into Game 1 against the New York Rangers. The enigmatic winger hadn't scored in 15 playoff games dating to 2009 but was doing his best (as usual) to hide his emotions.