Source: USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The puck kept being shot over the glass in the late going Saturday as the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers battled in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. It went over the glass once late in regulation and twice in the first 7:09 of overtime.
It went in the net only once all day, however, off the stick of Caps defenseman Mike Green, to give Washington a dramatic 1-0 victory and a 2-0 series lead.
Games 3 and 4 are in New York Monday and Wednesday.
The teams skated through 68 minutes of taut, tight-checking playoff hockey with New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Washington’s Braden Holtby repeatedly slamming the door. Lundquvist made 37 saves, but couldn’t come up with Green’s power-play blast from the high slot at 8:00 of the extra period.
Holtby, who had 24 saves Saturday, has surrendered just one goal in the first two games.
New York went on a power play early in overtime when Washington’s Steve Oleksy took a delay-of-the-game penalty at 1:51, lifting the puck over the glass. But the Rangers did not get a shot on goal with the extra man, and by the time Green won it, they still hadn’t had a shot on Holtby in the overtime period.
After the Caps killed New York’s power play, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was whistled for a delay of game infraction at 7:09, and Washington capitalized. Green slapped the winner past Lundqvist, putting New York up against the wall.
With 45 seconds left in regulation, the puck had gone into the crowd off the stick of Washington’s Karl Alzner. But no infraction was called on that. Caps coach Adam Oates said after the game that he was told the officials ruled Alzner had deflected another player’s shot out of play.
But since New York has scored only once in 128 minutes of hockey and its power play has looked completely ineffective through the first two games, a man advantage there might not have made much difference.
“We’re just too stagnant, almost paralyzed,” New York coach John Tortorella said of his team’s power-play performance. When asked why, he replied, “I’ll leave it at that.”
Seconds earlier, when asked his opinion of the puck-over-glass, delay-of-game rule, he replied curtly: “It’s a rule.”
Green said a key for the Capitals was not to get frustrated as Lundqvist kept turning them away at the net.
“We just wanted to stick with the way we’ve been playing,” he said. “Our structure and system are strong, so if we kept being patient, eventually good things will happen. Everybody was pulling the same wagon, and we did well.”
The Caps have a long history of coming up short in the playoffs and letting series leads slip away. Green said Washington must guard against a letdown, and he is expecting New York to ramp up its game when the series switches to Madison Square Garden.
“We’ve got to put our foot on the pedal and push,” he said. “We’re in the position we want to be in, but we’ve also struggled (in the past), and teams have come back on us. We know how they’re going to play up (in New York).”
Oates said he wants his team to enjoy the result for a short period of time, “then turn the page.”
“It’s not over. We know that. They’re a very good hockey team.”