NHL Washington Capitals

Capitals’ Depth Leading the Way, Overpowering Rangers

They’re calling it the “Miracle in Manhattan.”  Some have suggested that this is the win that will help turn the Capitals’ postseason fortunes at around.  Ultimately, Wednesday’s breathtaking come-from-behind victory is just another game, but what it did do is illustrate the sheer firepower of the Capitals’ forwards from top-to-bottom.

With the Capitals playing easily their worst hockey of the series, they spotted the Rangers a 3-0 lead after two periods of play.  From there, star winger Alexander Semin got the team back in the game with an early third period goal.  After Semin’s goal, the Capitals’ third line forwards gave the team all the offense they’d need.

Soon after Semin lit the lamp, rookie center Marcus Johansson beat New York’s Henrik Lundvquist on a tap-in, which put the Rangers on their heels.  While his second goal was admittedly a fluke, as defenseman John Carlson’s point shot hit him in the rear end, Johansson nevertheless scored two huge goals for Washington, bringing them level with New York.

What enabled the Capitals to storm back against the Rangers isn’t simply that they’re a resilient hockey team, or that they got lucky.  Rather, it’s the fact that they’re able to roll three talented lines, all of which are capable of scoring- which was on display on Wednesday night.  The Rangers have chosen from the beginning of the series that they wanted to focus on containing the Caps’ top line, but that’s allowed Washington’s lesser-known offensive threats to shine.

In game one, it was the wily veteran Jason Arnott, picking off a poor Marc Staal clearing attempt before feeding Semin in the slot for the overtime winner.  In game two, it was Jason Chimera scoring the game-winner, on assists from linemates Brooks Laich and Johansson.

This time, after Johansson gave the Capitals life by knotting the game midway through the third, the Capitals would have to fight through another two periods of play before an end was in sight.  Washington outplayed the Rangers, outshooting them 53-39, including 18-13 in the overtime periods.  The Capitals, much like they did in game one, kept the pressure on the Rangers until their opposition committed a fatal error.

The culprit this time around was the Rangers’ most talented skater, Marian Gaborik, who was guilty of trying to do too much on a routine play.  As the speedy Chimera wheeled down the right wing into the Rangers’ zone, he let go a harmless shot that was blocked on its way to the net.  Instead of simply letting Lundvquist, who, by the way has been the only reason this series is close, cover the puck, Gaborik tried to chip the puck behind the net, which proved to be the error that made the difference.  The puck flipped up on end, finding its way back to Chimera in the crease, with a gaping net waiting.

This game proved yet again that if the Capitals can play a solid team game, their overall depth and skill up front will win out.  They have a far more talented collection of forwards than New York, and their ability to roll three effective scoring lines proved to be the difference.