New York Rangers Advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, Defeat Caps 2-1

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IMay 13, 2012

The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1997.

The Rangers were able to set the tone early, and throughout the game, the Rangers shut the Capitals down through multiple flurries of attack especially during the second period.

Henrik Lundqvist was an absolute monster and made dozens of highlight-reel saves throughout the night, and he was the best player for both teams on the ice.

The Rangers' forecheck was effective all night long as it limited the Capitals' ability to set up offense in their own zone, and that was a big key to victory.

The Rangers' defense also was very stable tonight when body checking and clearing the puck out of jams along the boards. It was a very physical and dirty game along the boards, and it was something that helped the Rangers set the pace early.

Score Sheet

Brad Richards; First Period: 1-0 NYR

Michael Del Zotto; Third Period: 2-0 NYR

Roman Hamrlik; Third Period: 2-1 NYR

What Went Right for New York

•The Rangers were able to establish their forecheck and backcheck early on. This defensive aggressiveness forced the Capitals to dump and chase instead of gaining the zone to set up shop in the Rangers' zone. 

•Scoring early was crucial for the Rangers as it allowed them to play with a lead instead of coming from behind. This was really critical for the Rangers overall play.

• Henrik Lundqvist was phenomenal again and he shut the door for the Rangers when they needed him most.

• Brad Richards had another huge Game 7 performance and he registered his 15th career point in his 12th Game 7.

Players of the Game

Henrik Lundqvist: Lundqvist was a monster for the New York Rangers as he made 22 saves on 23 shots. He came under fire many times throughout the night but remained solid until the Capitals' Roman Hamrlik punched a waffle puck through a sea of bodies during the waning moments of the third period.

This was a career-defining win for Lundqvist as he has finally taken his team to an Eastern Conference final.

Brad Richards: Richards scored his sixth goal of the postseason and registered his 12th point of the postseason. Richards set the tone early, scoring off a one-timer feed from Carl Hagelin early in the first period. All night long, Richards was an offensive force and clutch player.

Braden Holtby: Even in a loss, Holtby was once again clutch for the Capitals as he denied many rebound opportunities the Rangers had throughout the game. Holtby is a goalie with a bright future and will be leading the Capitals in the playoffs for years to come.

Must-See Highlight and X-Factor

The must-see highlight of the night was Brad Richards' opening goal to set the tone early on. It was a concept the Rangers had failed to employ all series long, but the one-timer finally benefited the Rangers as Richards blasted a shot past Braden Holtby.

What is Next ?

The New York Rangers will take on the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference final. It will be the first time these two teams have met since 1994.

Game 1 will be played on Monday night at Madison Square Garden at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Game 2 will be played on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden at 8:00 p.m. E.T.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.