2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 5 - Washington 3, N.Y. Rangers 1 – Capitals win series, 4-1
The Washington Capitals made sure that they didn’t overlook the number eight seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year.
Last year the Capitals blew a 3-1 series edge against Montreal in a 1 vs. 8 matchup last year. Not this time. Once again in possession of the highest point total in the East, the Caps finished the job and learned from their haunting journey against the Habs.
The boys from the Beltway actually did what they were supposed to do and lowered blood pressure rates throughout the nation’s capital city. The top-seeded Capitals put away the New York Rangers in five games with a triumph on Saturday afternoon at a rocking and rollicking Verizon Center, marking the first time they have finished off a team in fewer than seven games since 1998, when they advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. (Washington beat Buffalo in six games to win the Eastern Conference Finals.)
This was also the Capitals' first playoff series under Bruce Boudreau that didn't go the distance. He had led Washington through four seven-game series -- winning only one -- since becoming coach in 2007.
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Mike Green scored the lone goal of the first period on the man advantage at the 5:59 mark. Alex Ovechkin added a goal at the 7:04 to give Washington a comfortable two goal lead after 40 minutes of hockey. Ovechkin’s goal wasn’t quite as good as the spectacular and spellbinding dazzler turned in by Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan late Friday night against the Nashville Predators, but it was close. The score reminded the hockey community of Ovechkin’s potency and brilliance, and it’s fitting enough that the Caps’ most formidable player scored the goal that wound up being the difference.
The icing on the cake for Washington came when Alexander Semin scored at the 16:23 mark of the third period to make the score 3-0.
New York scored its lone goal at 19:28 of the third period when Wojtek Wolski scored after the Rangers had pulled their goalie.
All in all, the bottom line should read like this: The Capitals were able to sneak past the Rangers in five games, even though the games were much closer than the series length showed.
The question now is will they be able to get past the Eastern Conference semifinals? The Caps could possibly play Sidney Crosby and the archrival Pittsburgh Penguins if the 2009 Cup champions are able to outlast the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then again, if Buffalo can finish off Philadelphia, the Caps will draw the Sabres in round two.
Yes, round two: The Washington Capitals have escaped the first round. Believe it.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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