Mistakes are so much easier to take when your team wins.
The Caps’ 3-2 victory covered several flubs Monday night, but this caveat should be added: any time you beat this Rangers lineup in this series, you know you’ve worked hard. So poorly timed shift changes and the inability to generate much traffic or screening on net against Henrik Lundqvist (remember, if he sees it, he stops it) don’t seem quite so bad when you put it next to the puck prowess of Mike Knuble on the Caps’ first goal or the blazing speed of Jason Chimera on the second. If I were the Rangers, my number one on the to-do list would be figuring out how to make it so that Chimera has to skate with 20-pound weights hanging around his waist. His speed has burned them twice.
Perhaps the biggest two moments of redemption for the Capitals, however, came at different ends of the ice.
First, there was the Braden Holtby stop on a Chris Kreider breakaway that would have brought an expression to even Joan Rivers’ face. Considering Holtby got beat handily by Kreider on something of a similar setup in Game 1, it was perhaps his most impressive save of the night, which saw him finish with a.929 save percentage compared to the .786 he sported last time. Good to see someone who learns from his mistakes.
But there was also the power play goal scored by Alex Ovechkin after enduring “Ovi sucks” chants from the crowd at MSG and a significant amount of media attention devoted to his shortened time on ice. It also broke a score bottlenecked at 2-2, his drought of scoring on the power play this postseason, and allowed everyone in the D.C. area to begin inhaling and exhaling again at something of a normal pace (until the Rangers pulled Lundqvist).
Which do you think was a bigger redemptive moment? We think the edge on this one goes to Ovi, since there really was no bigger spotlight than scoring on a man advantage with under 10 minutes left in a tie-game.
And on that note, let’s hope Mike Green finds some redemption in this series Wednesday.
P.S. Oh, and raise your hand if you predicted Keith Aucoin would have more points than Dennis Wideman at this stage of the postseason.