The New York Rangers looked like they came ready to hit Wednesday night—not necessarily ready to win.
For the Capitals, who got an early lead on an Alex Ovechkin power play goal, that meant they needed to be cautious about not getting drawn into any extracurricular activities–especially since they made plenty of trips to the penalty box without them (over the 60-minute time frame, they played 10 minutes total of penalty kill time, so basically half a period).
“The start of the Bruins’ series, things got a little bit chippy, and we talked a lot about it, and that was one of the things that we knew had to be successful as a team—we wanted to either be on the power play or 5-on-5. We stayed out of it again tonight,” said Matt Hendricks.
In particular, the Caps’ Jason Chimera, known for not hiding his feelings on the ice, had to turn the other cheek Wednesday and exert extra effort as the Rangers worked to get under his skin. He answered with five shots and a goal. He also drew at least two Ranger penalties—the first led to Ovechkin’s power play goal, and the second came when Brandon Prust tried to provoke him.
“Chimmer did a good job of not getting too hot-headed, did a great job skating away, and Prust takes another penalty on him,” Hendricks said. “Those are things that aren’t always fun to do—take punches—but when you’re doing it for the rest of the guys in this room, it means a lot.”
“In Boston, I took a couple dumb penalties and kind of cost a bit of momentum,” Chimera said. “I didn’t want to cause any momentum. … They’re trying to draw a penalty, and you don’t want to be that goat in the penalty box, that’s for sure.”
Overall, it was a fairly strong showing for the Capitals, who were less than a minute away from a shutout of the Rangers.
“It was a lot like that Game 7 up in Boston,” Hendricks said of Hunter’s communication before the game. “He just came in and said, ‘You guys, you know, you’ve worked hard, you’ve battled hard, go out and win the hockey game. Play the way you can and win the hockey game.”