- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 25, 2009

Matt Bradley proved Henrik Lundqvist is indeed mortal, and hope of a comeback still exists for the Washington Capitals.

Lundqvist, the star of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series for the New York Rangers, had his first substandard effort, and Bradley scored a pair of goals to help the Caps to a 4-0 victory Friday night in Game 5 at a surprisingly less-than-full Verizon Center.

Alex Ovechkin added another highlight-reel goal to his library, and rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov stopped all 20 shots he faced to help stave off elimination for the Caps. The series moves back to Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon for Game 6, with Washington trailing 3-2.

Bradley put the Caps on the board first at 4:58 with a short-handed tally. Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival fell down along the left boards near the Caps blue line, and Bradley skated past him to get to the puck.

He knocked it past New York’s other point man on the power play, Chris Drury, and had open ice in front of him. Bradley flipped a backhand shot past Lundqvist for his first playoff goal in 22 career postseason contests.

Bradley made it a two-goal advantage at 12:07. Brooks Laich lofted the puck from the neutral zone toward the right corner, and Bradley chased it down and then squeezed a shot past Lundqvist from near the goal line.

Normally on the fourth line, Bradley was promoted to the third unit for this game by coach Bruce Boudreau. He nearly had as many shots (two) as the Rangers (three) did in the first period.

Nicklas Backstrom won a faceoff back to Alexander Semin and he blistered a shot into the top left corner of the net 4:57 into the second period to make it 3-0. It was Semins team-leading fourth of this series. He now has seven career postseason goals — more for Washington than any other player on the team.

Ovechkin scored the goal of this series late in the middle period. He carried the puck into the zone and brushed off an attempted hit by Rangers captain Chris Drury before slipping the puck through Derek Morris legs. He lost control of it for a second, then kicked the puck back to his stick and backhanded a shot past Lundqvist just as Aaron Voros was falling on top of him with 29 seconds left.

That was the last shot Lundqvist, who came into the game with a .946 save percentage, would see. Rangers coach John Tortorella benched him in favor of backup Stephen Valiquette after the second intermission.

It was another strong defensive effort for the Caps, but it was also another flawless night for the 20-year-old rookie Varlamov, who earned his second shutout of the series and has nearly as many postseason starts (four) as he does in the regular-season (five) in his NHL career.

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