Capitals Relished Intensity in Game 2’s Closing Moments

Nail-biting, heart-pounding hockey.

And the Capitals relished it.

The Capitals and Rangers fought long and hard, literally, Saturday afternoon, culminating in an overtime that saw Mike Green make the only successful shot past either team’s goalie all game.

For those watching, the pressure hovered like a 7th man above the arena as the third period progressed and the scoreboard remanined 0-0.  Exciting, intense, cliffhanger would be the vocabulary that comes to mind—fun, not so much.

But that’s what separates the players from the spectators.

“It’s fun. It’s playoff hockey. That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Marcus Johansson said of the game.

“It’s exciting,” Troy Brouwer said afterwards of the high-pressure situation the two teams found themselves in during the third. with the caveat that guys have to make sure they don’t let the situation overwhelm them.

In fact, Brouwer said the “older guys”—he didn’t specify who that might be—did a great job Saturday of making sure everyone was even-keeled and got a healthy dose of positive reinforcement.

“Just talking, making sure everyone’s communicating, making sure guys are getting pats on the back, not getting on each other if there’s a mistake, because the last thing we need is guys getting frustrated with each other,” Brouwer elaborated on how the “older guys” accomplished this.

He and Johansson weren’t the only ones eating the pressure for breakfast.

“It feels great,” Eric Fehr said when asked about that element in the third period. “Those are the games you want to be a part of. That’s the playoff hockey you expect. We were prepared for it, and we played our system to a “T”, and we played it well.”

And oh, boy, was it playoff hockey. The only object the puck had trouble finding during the 60+minutes was the net. Both teams always seemed to be right near the puck—the Rangers usually blocking it, the Caps usually passing it.

Fehr, for one, was impressed with that part of the Rangers’ game.

“They block so well, it’s like they got six goalies out there,” said Fehr, who himself had a blocked shot that garnered him a postgame shoutout from Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.

It’s going to take not only figuring out Henrik Lundqvist, but figuring out how to beat the Rangers’ shot-blocking acumen consistently, for the Capitals to keep getting on the board in this series.

Neither Lundqvist nor Holtby were short of spectacular, though it’s doubtful either would characterize their performance that way. For fans of goaltending, it was a treat to watch both goalies manage the puck with ease.

“No,” Holtby said when asked if this was the most comfortable he’s ever felt in net. “Tonight, it wasn’t a very straining game on a goalie. … I felt comfortable out there, but there’s still room for improvement.”

Special teams came through again for Washington in overtime, with Green’s goal coming on the power play.  The Capitals’ marked improvement in the penalty killing unit was something we’ve been talking about at OFB for the past two weeks, and helped the team fend off the first penalty of overtime.

Just one request: may we never see another puck over the glass penalty from either team again.

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6 Responses to Capitals Relished Intensity in Game 2’s Closing Moments

  1. gs12 says:

    I guess being a lifelong Caps fans, I’m used to watching a game like yesterdays end badly. Maybe that’s why it’s so nerve racking when we have that many near misses, in the back of your mind your thinking – that was our chance to change things this time.

    Karma

    I think this team is different, they seem to emulate Oates system and calmness now. They’ve always had the skill….now they have the ‘it’ factor. ….I hope!

  2. Bob says:

    Caps didn’t look as good as they did in game #1. Rags looked better than in game #1, and Lundqvist’s 35 saves were downright scary and unbelievable at times. Luck was on the Caps side yesterday, with the delay non-call, the high-sticking/diving call, and a couple of the other breaks that went the caps way (like the cross bar- again). I am sure Tortorella has the Rags doing drills to miss the crossbar and hit the back of the net today.

    The Rags are going to come out on Monday skating like men possessed with all their big guns blazing. Do the Caps play like the Caps we know and play by reacting to the Rags? Or do they press their counter-attack with a zeal that one would expect from a Championship level hockey team? It would be nice to steal at least one in MSG, and come home with a chance to close out.

    But let’s not get too excited, this Caps team has blown 2 game series leads before (Pit – 2009, MTL – 2010). As most caps fans old and new now know, for the Washington Capitals, there is never a sure thing until the last whistle of a playoff series. If (that’s a huge ‘if’) this team gets past the second round of the playoffs, then I’ll start to believe that this team is different. Until then, we’re just reliving the usual hockey spring season in DC.

  3. Trap says:

    This message brought to you by Buzzkill Bob.

  4. Bob says:

    Actually, it’s brought to you by two things that buzzkill bob has no control over: 1. Caps historical performances in the post season, and 2. reality. This is only round #1 (the round of about half the entire league) the Caps have been here many times as a franchise.

  5. gs12 says:

    @Bob – History is history, the real ‘reality’ is this might be the most legit Caps team to make a run of the new ‘era’. Great goaltending. Check. A system that fits this team. Check. a Killer PP AND PK. Check. Rocket Richard winner. Check.

    we all feel the pain from the past, but it doesn’t mean it’s our fate (i hope;-)

  6. Buzzkill Bob says:

    I’ll share that sentiment if this Caps team is still playing in June.

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