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Rangers move to within one game of elimination with loss in DC

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs capitals 5-6

Tempers were flaring at the Verizon Center in Game 4, yet another hard fought battle that fell into the Capitals favor thanks to strong defense and a struggling Rangers’ offense. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

For the second consecutive year, the Rangers find themselves facing elimination and a 3-1 series deficit in the second round of the playoffs following their latest crushing loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

The Rangers anemic offense continues to be the storyline here, managing just one goal on Holtby in the two games at the Verizon Center. And again, despite outchancing the Capitals, and attempting more shots, they could not score enough to support a very strong Henrik Lundqvist.

In the last 163:13, dating back to Game 2, the Rangers have scores just two goals, with both of them coming from Derick Brassard. Simply put, the Rangers’ top guys are not getting it done, and the team needs contributions from all over the ice if they want to keep their season alive.

This is not meant to diminish the effort from the Capitals. Washington’s defenders have done a tremendous job of blocking shots, clearing the crease for Holtby, and shutting down guys like Rick Nash. In the last 2:46 seconds of the game, the Capitals did not allow a shot on goal. The last three shots of the game were from Dominic Moore (11 ft., 4:50 left), Ryan McDonagh (62 ft., 3:05) and Derick Brassard (94 ft., 2:46 left). In net, Holtby has been a brick wall, and continues to help carry the Capitals through the playoffs.

Rangers vs capitals Game 4 holtby 5-6

Braden Holtby has been near perfect for the Capitals, and he was strong in net again tonight. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

The Rangers 2-1 loss tonight marks the 11th straight playoff game that has been decided by one goal. This year, it’s truly baffling as to why the Rangers have not been able to score more. They’re getting to good scoring areas, getting quality chances, but they just haven’t been able to convert. You can certainly say that the puck luck and bounces have not been on their side, but you can only blame luck so much.

One thing that’s noticeable is that the Rangers have not done a great job of getting traffic in front of Holtby. They were certainly better at it tonight than in Game 3, but Holtby hasn’t had to make a lot of second chance saves throughout the series. The Rangers need to make life harder for him, get bodies in front, and convert on loose pucks.

Yet again, Henrik Lundqvist was spectacular. Lundqvist is the main reason why the Rangers have won games in the playoffs. His 1.64 GAA and .939% save percentage are second in the NHL in the playoffs, behind only Braden Holtby. Lundqvist continues to make save after save, including some really impressive ones, but up until now, his team has left him out to dry.

The goal scoring began 6:12 into the second period, and it was the Rangers’ best playoff performer Derick Brassard netting his fifth goal of the playoffs, with the assists coming from Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis. Rick Nash backhanded the puck out of the zone to Martin St. Louis, gloving it down and going on a rush. Brassard beat Ovechkin in a foot race, and St. Louis’s elevated pass over the defender stick went right to Brassard, and he promptly deposited the puck top shelf past Holtby.

derick brassard celebrating 5-6

Derick Brassard celebrates after scoring his fifth goal of the playoffs in the second period. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Later in the period, Andre Burakovsky was able to tie the game with his first career NHL playoff goal. Chris Kreider turned the puck over along the boards, and Burakovsky was able to skate away with it. Troy Brouwer took out Derek Stepan on a near tripping call, freeing up a lane for Burakovsky to come in and shoot a wrister past Lundqvist to tie the game at 1 heading into the third period.

Just 24 seconds into the third period, Andre Burakovsky broke through with his second goal of the game to give the Capitals the lead. Ryan McDonagh committed a turnover on the boards thanks to the hard work of Troy Brouwer, who pressured him along the boards. McDonagh lost the puck behind him, sending Burakovsky on a breakaway. He went to the front of the net and went forehand to backhand, putting the Capitals up 2-1 on what would eventually be the game winner.

The Rangers had a chance to tie the game at two, when Carl Hagelin was tugged down to the ice on a breakaway, giving him a penalty shot. Hagelin came in with speed, faked a shot and brought it to his backhand with a great move, but Holtby somehow managed to snag it out of midair and prevent a goal.

Some strong defense late sealed the win for the Capitals, and sent the Rangers home facing a 3-1 series deficit.

The Rangers have their back against the wall. Henrik Lundqvist said it best. “There’s nothing to figure out. We just need to score. It’s that simple.” It’s time to take it one game at a time, and make a comeback. The series is not over.

THREE STARS

1) Henrik Lundqvist – 28 SV, .933 SV%

2) Derick Brassard – 1 G, 2 SOG, 16:47 TOT

3) Rick Nash – 1 A, 3 SOG, 2 HT, 19:23 TOT

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Posted on May 7, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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