How Rangers Stole One From Caps: Let's Call That Dark Horse "Cinderella"

Martin AverySenior Writer IApril 16, 2009

WASHINGTON - APRIL 15:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals checks Sean Avery #16 of the New York Rangers along the boards during Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, 2009 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

The underdogs took one from the top dogs in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the New York Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 4-3.

It was Sean "A-Dog" Avery who did the damage and Henrik "The King " Lundquist who faced close to 30 shots from Alex Ovechkin.

The series was promoted as Ovie-Won versus The King, but Lundqvist won this one.

Ovechkin took over 500 shots and scored over 55 goals in the regular season, but he could not put one past Lundqvist, no matter how hard he tried.

Fifteen of his shots were on target. The Rangers blocked a lot of shots.

Two goals were attributed to Ovechkin but later awarded to other Caps.

The Rangers kept Mike Green off the scoreboard, too. The defense-man got 30 goals in the regular season, more than the Rangers' top forwards.

Both Green and Ovechkin came out hitting. Green hit Fredrik Sjostrom hard in the second period but avoided a penalty for elbowing.

Avery ran into Green and took him out of the play that gave Scott Gomez a huge goal for the Rangers. Green battled Avery all night. So did the Caps enforcer, Erskine.

Avery got a two minute holding penalty for giving Erskine a face wash. He dumped green over the boards, into the Rangers bench, in the third period, then skated back to see if Green was up for a fight.

The Caps are known as an emotional team but there wasn't an enormous amount of emotion in the game as they have no recent history with the Rangers. The New Yorkers are no longer vanilla since they brought in John Tortorella and the so called "villain," Avery.

Tortorella sat Avery down for the final thirty seconds, possibly for anger management. Otherwise, there would have been a brawl with Green in it.

Avery fenced with the Caps goalie, Jose Theodore, earlier in the game and Theodore hit him on the head with his goal stick. There was no penalty on that play or when Green cross checked Avery from behind while he was in front of the net.

While Avery kept Green busy and off the scoreboard, the Rangers blocked one half of Ovechkin's shots and Lundqvist stopped the other half. That's how the Rangers stole the game.

After the game, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau claimed he didn't notice Avery, but hinted he might replace Theodore with his back-up, Simeon Varlamov, as soon as the second game in the series.

So, Lundqvist beat Ovechkin and Avery beat Theodore. That's how the Rangers stole that game.

Ovechkin tried to get to Lundqvist before the game, claiming that his goalie pads were bigger than regulation size.

Avery did not even have to try to get to Theodore, who has been called "shaky" this year, the way he got to Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins recently and, even more famously, Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs last y ear.

On paper, the Capitals are a better team than the Rangers but the New Yorkers knew how to steal the first game of the series in Washington and that will have a huge effect on the series.

If the Rangers somehow steal the second game, destroying home ice advantage, they will return to their turf with incredible confidence, momentum, and a five game winning streak.

Stealing one win, especially the first of the series, gives the Rangers a great psychological advantage. Even so, they will still be considered the underdogs in the next game.

Few have called the Rangers a Cinderella team, yet, but many have called them the dark horse most likely to pull off an upset in these playoffs.

One more upset like that first one and they can call that dark horse "Cinderella".