Wednesday night will be another treat for NHL fans everywhere when the New York Rangers roll into the nation's capital to square off with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. This has been an entertaining series, with most fans predicting the Rangers prevailing.
There is no lack of star power with these two clubs, which is part of the reason fans love this series.
In Game 5, the Caps led the Rangers all the way until about seven seconds left in regulation. The Rangers were dominating play, outshooting the Caps 38-18, but still found themselves down by a 2-1 score late in regulation.
Capitals forward Joel Ward took a bad penalty off a faceoff, when he lost track of his stick and clipped Rangers forward Carl Hagelin in the face. Worse yet, Hagelin was bleeding, so the two-minute minor turned into a four-minute double-minor.
Ward went to the box and play continued. The Rangers were peppering Caps goaltender Braden Holtby as the clock wound down, and had several chances at a goal.
With about seven seconds to go, Brad Richards knocked in a loose puck in the crease to tie the score. Ward's penalty carried over into overtime, where the Rangers ended the game on a one-timer from the point by defenseman Marc Staal.
The Caps had the Rangers on the ropes, and were just seconds from returning home to play Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead. I'm sure even the Rangers players were thinking of going to Washington down a game. One mental error later, the Rangers stole Game 5 and control of the series.
The series has decidedly shifted in New York's favor, but with Game 6 looming, can the Capitals recover? They have the firepower to do it. Alex Ovechkin will need to be on the ice more for it to happen, that's for sure.
Washington is playing defensive hockey, and that limits Ovechkin's ice-time, since he can be a liability defensively. With the end of the season at hand, there is no more time for strategy. Ovechkin is the most talented scorer Washington has, and he needs to see the ice.
As for New York, netminder Henrik Lundqvist is playing great. He has a 1.70 goals against average, and is looking as sharp as ever. If he continues his stellar play, it will be tough for the Capitals to win.
Brad Richards is finding his scoring touch, notching three goals and two assists already in the series. Even though Marion Gaborik has been quiet, he might show up for Game 6.
Washington will have a loud arena tonight, but I don't think it will be enough to take down New York. I predict the Rangers will win in overtime by a 2-1 score and move on to face New Jersey in the Eastern Conference Finals.
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