This was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever watched. Both teams traded a lot of chances, played very physical hockey, and got great goaltending. This was one of those 2-1 games that you were on the edge of your seat for the entire game. So many posts, so many chances, but in the end it was Marian Gaborik burying a Brad Richards pass from behind the net to win it in triple overtime. Let’s get to the breakdown.
This goal begins with a simple play of Troy Brouwer chasing Brad Richards behind the net while on the penalty kill. Kids, don’t ever do that. His other teammates made the correct choice of getting back after the 3-on-2 rush, but Brouwer did not. It leaves Richards open to make a breakout pass to start the rush with only three men back. The puck wound up on Michael Del Zotto’s stick, who had a lot of room to take a shot. A few lucky bounces off John Carlson and Matt Hendricks later, the puck lands on Ryan Callahan’s stick with an open net.
1-1 Capitals tie it up
This goal begins with Anton Stralman taking the puck deep, and then getting caught in the Washington zone after a long shift. This forces Marian Gaborik to play defense. Gabby, as we know, is not a defenseman, and plays the rush by Carlson wrong. Instead of forcing the defenseman to the outside, he plays the puck and Carlson is able to cut to the middle. His shot bounces off Marc Staal and right back onto his stick. From then it’s a matter of just getting it in the right spot on net, which he did. Henrik Lundqvist had a shot, but it’s a tall order to ask him to stop that.
2-1 Rangers, Gabby wins it for the Rangers
With both teams trading chances, the Rangers wound up with the puck behind their net and made two short passes, where Carl Hagelin wound up with the puck at the circles in the Rangers zone. His clearing pass to Gaborik took a lucky bounce to and wound up on his stick. A short pass to a streaking Ricahrds, followed by some great puck possession by Richards to gain the zone and get a good scoring chance. Girardi had some great sense to pinch and keep the puck deep, working to get the puck back to Richards behind the net. Gabby planted himself in front of the net –where he was all game– and buried the perfect feed. Game. Set. Match.
Regardless of the outcome, with all the hits, chances, saves, posts, and blocked shots on rushes, you felt like you were going to have a coronary. This could have been the most exciting games in the playoffs this year. The Rangers are up 2-1, and the two days off are much needed for both teams. It’s quite possible Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi sleep until Saturday.