Caps Serve Rangers A Slab Of Ribs – Mike Ribeiro hadn’t been very happy with his play in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, but he launched a sellout Verizon Center crowd into a jubilant frenzy on Friday night.
Ribeiro’s goal at 9:24 of overtime lifted the Washington Capitals to a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the two teams.
Ribeiro gained position down low at the top of the New York crease and quickly tucked a rebound of a Karl Alzner point shot into a gaping cage as Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist sprawled in vain to stop the puck.
“It’s obviously a very big goal for him,” says Caps coach Adam Oates. “He’s played pretty good hockey for us. He’s played well in the series and just hasn’t gotten one to go his way. Obviously a huge goal.”
Washington now holds a 3-2 lead in a series in which the home team has won every contest. Game 6 will be played on Sunday afternoon in New York.
Ribeiro had an indirect hand in the Capitals’ first goal of the game on Friday, and he was also dominant in the face-off circle with 19 wins in 27 draws (70%).
“I felt good right away,” says Ribeiro. “Last game I had a bad game in the circle, and a lot of times when you have good games in the circle, your focus is better. You start with the puck, you’re not chasing as much. It was important for me to bounce back.”
The Caps got off to an inauspicious start in Friday’s Game 5, falling into a 1-0 hole in the first minute of the game. New York center Derick Brassard has been a thorn in Washington’s side throughout the series, and he burned the Caps again.
Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi played the puck hard around the right wing wall to Brassard, who was stationed below the goal line on the opposite side. Brassard neatly funneled the puck to Brian Boyle just above the top of the paint, and Boyle drilled a one-timer past Caps goalie Braden Holtby just 53 seconds after the opening puck drop.
Brassard is New York’s leading scorer in this series with six points (one goal, five assists).
Washington was forced to kill a pair of first-period penalties, a Jason Chimera boarding call at 4:40 and a John Erskine elbowing infraction at 9:57. New York registered 10 of its 21 first-period shot attempts while it was on the power play. Caps forward Matt Hendricks blocked six shots in first-period duty, with five of those coming while Washington was shorthanded.
Holtby made a pair of solid stops on semi-breakaways in the first, one on Derek Dorsett and another on Carl Hagelin to keep the Caps close.
As has been the case for most of the series, the Caps found it difficult to get shots through to New York netminder Henrik Lundqvist. He was required to make just eight saves on the 21 shot attempts the Caps launched in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Washington shifted its defense around in the second, pairing Jack Hillen with John Carlson and Erskine with Steve Oleksy.
The adjustment seemed to help, as Washington began to tilt the ice a bit in the middle stanza. The Caps finally earned their first power play of the game at the 7:33 mark of the second when Ribeiro goaded Boyle into an undisciplined slashing penalty away from the play.
Washington won the ensuing face-off, setting up its 1-3-1 extra-man alignment. Nicklas Backstrom passed to Marcus Johansson beneath the goal line to Lundqvist’s right, and Johansson fed Joel Ward in the slot. Ward fired a one-timer home from there to even the score a 1-1 just 11 seconds after Boyle was seated in the penalty box.
Once again the Caps were forced to kill off a pair of Rangers power plays in the second period. Hillen went off for holding at 14:53, and the Caps put themselves in the line of fire again just 15 seconds after killing off that minor. When Carlson went off for delay of game at 17:08, it gave the Rangers a prime chance to take a lead into the second intermission with the penalty-killing workhorse among Caps defensemen in the box and Washington’s shorthanded outfit being taxed with a pair of missions in short succession.
Washington took it to the Rangers in the third, teeing up 28 shots to just 13 for New York. The Caps got 13 of those shots on Lundqvist while the Rangers managed to test Holtby just four times.
When New York defenseman Michael Del Zotto went off for interference on Mathieu Perreault at 1:52 of the third, the Caps had a rare chance to jump in front. Washington put some pressure on the Rangers, and even had Lundqvist without his stick for a couple of Alex Ovechkin backdoor chances. But the Caps’ captain wasn’t able to jimmy one home, and the game remained even.
The Caps had another late flurry in regulation, but the game required more than 60 minutes to settle for the second time in the last four games and the second consecutive game at Verizon Center.
A tautly played 60-minute chess match suddenly turned into a wide-open affair with heavy-legged sprinters on both sides in overtime. The two teams traded chances; the Rangers teed up more shot attempts (14) in less than 10 minutes of overtime than they had in the entire 20 minutes of the third period, and they also had more shots on goal (six) in the extra session than they had in the third (four).
Ward set up Perreault for a terrific one-on-one opportunity early in the overtime, but Lundqvist stopped the Caps’ center. Backstrom fed Ovechkin for one of the best looks the Caps’ captain has had in recent games, but Lundqvist got that one, too.
At the other end of the ice, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan had a good look at the net from the left circle early in the extra session but he missed wide. Blueshirts winger Rick Nash finally recorded his first shot on goal of the game in overtime, but Holtby had the answer for his backhand bid. New York center Derek Stepan had the game on his stick in the slot, but was stopped by Holtby. Hagelin was there to jam at the rebound, but Holtby got that one, too.
Just before the midway mark of the overtime session, Mike Green took a shot that was blocked out in front by Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The puck came right back to Green, who passed to Alzner at the left point. Alzner wound up and fired toward the net, where both Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer had good position on New York defenders. The puck glanced off Brouwer and New York blueliner Anton Stralman and kicked right to Ribeiro. The veteran center banged it home for his sixth career playoff goal and first game-winner.
Ribeiro has two points in the five games of this series, and both have come in overtime. He made a sublime play to set up Green’s overtime game-winner in Game 2 at Verizon Center last Saturday.
“The way I play is that the next shift is a new one,” says Ribeiro. “You make a mistake or you get mad at the refs one shift; during the year you stay soggy a bit, but in the playoffs you don’t have time to waste your energy on the shift that just passed.”
This One Goes to Eleven – Ribeiro became the 11th different Capital to light the red lamp in this series; only Mike Green (two) has scored more than once for Washington in the five games.
Of the 16 NHL teams in the 2012-13 Stanley Cup playoffs, only the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins (12 each) have had more different goal scorers than the Capitals.
Killer Instinct – Washington killed off all four New York power plays in Friday’s game and has snuffed out 19 of 21 (90.5) Rangers power plays in the series. Only Chicago (100%) has had better penalty killing success so far in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Rangers attempted 20 shots during their eight minutes of power play time on Friday, getting seven on net and having a dozen of them blocked. Hendricks blocked six of those shots and four Capitals defensemen combined to block the other six.
New York spent four minutes of a 4:15 span with the man-advantage late in the second period, getting three shots on net and seeing seven bids blocked during that span.
New York has had 21 power plays to just 14 for the Capitals in the series. Game 5 was the third straight game in which the Rangers had twice as many extra-man opportunities as Washington; New York has had 14 power plays to seven for the Capitals in that stretch.
Faulty Firsts – Washington has been outscored by a combined 4-1 in the first 20 minutes of play in the five games of this series. The Caps are tied with Vancouver for the fewest first-period tallies of the 16 playoff entrants.
Trailers – Since the end of Game 1 of this series, the Caps and Rangers have played a total of 257 minutes and 24 seconds of hockey. Washington has held a lead for exactly 8 minutes and 44 seconds of that stretch, all of that coming in the first period of Game 3.
Washington won Games 2 and 5 in overtime without ever holding a lead at any point until lighting the lamp in the extra session.
Turning The Tables – During the 2012-13 regular season, the Rangers were 18-2-1 when scoring the game’s first goal and 13-0-1 when leading after the first period.
Thus far in this series, the Blueshirts are 1-2 when scoring the game’s first goal and 1-2 when leading after the game’s first 20 minutes.
Dashing Debut – Friday’s Game 5 marked the NHL debut of Caps right wing Tom Wilson, the team’s first-round (16th overall) choice in the 2012 NHL Draft. After spending the 2012-13 season with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, Wilson joined the AHL Hershey Bears for the Calder Cup playoffs last week. The Bears were eliminated on Wednesday by virtue of a 3-2 loss to the Bruins in Providence, and Wilson joined the Caps at practice on Thursday morning.
The kid acquitted himself quite well in his NHL baptism, registering four hits, a takeaway and a shot on goal in eight shifts totaling 6:24.
“It was everything I imagined,” says Wilson. “It was just unbelievable. The fans, you could hear them, everyone could hear them. It was just the best support we could have. And to have a finish like that; it was just a dream come true and everything I imagined.”
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Wilson becomes just the fourth player in Washington’s franchise history to make his NHL debut in a Stanley Cup playoff contest. He follows Chris Felix (April 10, 1988), Grant Jennings (April 26, 1988) and Trent Whitfield (April 17, 2000) in achieving that distinction.
Wilson, 19, is the fifth teenager ever to suit up for the Capitals in the Stanley Cup playoffs and the first in 27 years. He follows Scott Stevens (18 in 1983), Bobby Carpenter (19 in 1983), Kevin Hatcher (18 in 1985) and Yvon Corriveau (19 in 1986).
Down On The Farm – The ECHL Reading Royals won a 3-2 decision on the road over the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday night to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference final series between the two teams.
Reading jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, getting a goal from Alex Berry just 21 seconds after the opening face-off and another from Evan Barlow just 41 seconds later. The Cyclones responded with a goal in the second and tied it on a power-play goal midway through the third period.
Joel Champagne scored the game-winner for the Royals on a power play with just 11 seconds remaining in the third period. Riley Gill made 27 saves to earn the win for Reading.
Cincinnati hosts Game 5 on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
By The Numbers – Tonight’s tilt was the fourth straight game in the series in which the two clubs headed into the third period tied on the scoreboard … Green led the Capitals with 29:16 in ice time … Alzner paced Washington with 4:15 in shorthanded ice time, and Hendricks led Caps forwards with 3:29 worth of penalty-killing duty … Ovechkin led the Caps with nine shots on net and 15 shot attempts … Jason Chimera led the Caps with seven hits … Hendricks led the Caps with seven blocked shots … Girardi led New York with 29:13 in ice time … Hagelin paced the Rangers with five shots on goal … Girardi was charged with six giveaways … Callahan led the Rangers with six hits … McDonagh led the Rangers with six blocked shots.