NEW YORK – One of the many storylines expected to come out of this series was going to be the performance of the two goaltenders. Henrik Lundqvist, it was announced between game three and four in series, is on the ballot paper again for the Vezina Trophy, enabling him to defend the title he won last season, meanwhile the Capitals Braden Holtby has emerged as one of the brightest young goalies in the league and has the potential to be on the voting slip for the same trophy in years to come.
In game three, however, both Lundqvist and Holtby had to take a back seat as the Rangers and Capitals posted a total of seven goals, with New York coming away with a 4-3 win and cutting the Capitals lead in the series to just a single game.
Wednesday night, back at Madison Square Garden, and the two tenders where hoping for a game four that resembled more the defensive battle of games one and two rather than the offensive outburst of game three. “We gave them too much freedom in front of the net, they got a couple of goals from that, we’ll have a look at it and make sure we execute it [in game four]” said Holtby following the Rangers win in game 3.
Neither goalie got their wish as game four turned into a carbon copy of the encounter two nights earlier.
On this occasion New York helped themselves to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period and looked to be cruising to a win that would tie the series heading back to Washington DC. However the Capitals had other ideas and just three minutes later chalked their first goal up on board through Mathieu Perreault. All looked comfortable enough for John Tortorella’s team to head to the lock room with a one-goal lead for the third period, Troy Brouwer had other plans though and tied the game with just 18 seconds of the middle session left. That wasn’t the end of the entertainment for the sold out Garden crowd before the second intermission, on the buzzer Jason Chimera was whistled for interference meaning his Washington side would play the opening two minutes of the final period short-handed and give the Rangers the luxury of fresh ice.
It was a luxury the home town club took full advantage of by grabbing just their second power play goal of the series and with that the lead once more.
“We didn’t clear it out and gave them too many chances” is how Capitals head coach Adam Oates saw the third period Ranger power play. Then it was left to Derek Stepan to double the lead and leave Washington needing two goals in 14 minutes against a side who have been priding themselves on the amount of blocked shots. “I think we have got better as the series has gone on, the thing I like about our team in the last two games is that we have bent but we didn’t break and we’ll need that heading into Washington” said Tortorella when asked about the difference between his team at home as opposed to the first two games in DC.
Washington did get one to cut the game down to a 4-3 game, ironically the same score as game 3, but they couldn’t find that extra marker to send the game into overtime.
Now the wacky races begin again with both teams heading back to Washington for game five in this, as Capitals Goalie Braden Holtby described, 3-game series.
Notes: Washington’s Martin Erat left the game in the second period with an ‘upper body injury’ and is expected to be evaluated on Thursday.