When Henrik Lundqvist allowed a seemingly harmless dump-in from center ice squirt by him for the tying goal early in the third period yesterday my mouth literally hung open with shock. Was this the turning point in what had been a solid effort against a very good Caps team? Were we going to lose a game because our heroic goalie allowed a silky, soft goal?
My fears began to be realized when the “lucky” goal scorer who beat Lundqvist with a dump-in, Niklas Backstrom, scored a power play goal to put the Capitals up 3 – 2 in the third period. A solid all-around effort which bordered on sensational at times in the second period was going to be wasted all because our favorite Ranger made a terrible mistake. Or was it?
Maybe in years past the Rangers would have folded under those unfortunate circumstances but not last night. Marian Gaborik tied the score just seconds after Backstrom put the Caps up. Gaborik then recorded what would ultimately be the game winner a couple of minutes later on a Rangers PP.
Neither of Gaborik’s goals were of the awe-inspiring variety. In fact, Caps goalie Jose Theodore probably should have stopped both shots. That’s the thing with premier goal scorers; the puck tends to find them and those players find a way to put the puck in the net. An “ugly” goal counts the same as a highlight reel goal and both of Gaborik’s goals were closer to “ugly” than they were to highlight reel. Both goals were definitely “goal scorer’s” goals.
That’s the type of production the Rangers paid for and desperately need from their star sniper. It’s nice to know that when you are a goal down you have a guy that can tie the score at any time, from nearly anywhere. When Gaborik is going, you are almost never out of a game until the final horn goes.
I actually sat down last night with pen and paper and took some notes during last night’s game. Here are a few of the things that I noticed in last nights contest:
Marian Gaborik: Looked at times as if he was fighting the puck. Apart from a wrap around attempt and then subsequently a juicy rebound attempt (both of which were stopped by Theodore) Gaborik had trouble with puck possession.
On a second period power play, Gabby took too much on himself trying to skate by three defenders only to have the puck stripped. Use your line mates Marian!
Clutch goal to tie the game in the third just seconds after Caps break the tie. Skated in on a mini-rush and beat Theodore 5-hole.
Ryan Callahan: Great work on the penalty kill in the second period. Just missed on a breakaway opportunity when the defender pushed him past the net and not allowing him to get a shot off. Tremendous stick work again stripping AO of the puck and skating out on a breakaway. Scores on a sweet back-hand beating Theo 5-hole.
Lisin-Kotalik-Anisimov: Some great shifts in the middle period by these guys. Kotalik lifted a back-hand that got over Theo after some nice passing in the offensive zone.
Anisimov: Got caught too high in the D zone on the Semin goal. Left a seam for Pothier to get the puck cross-ice for Semin who planted the puck. Anisimov needed to collapse a little lower and keep his stick on the ice.
Michal Rozsival: Giveaways, giveaways, giveaways!!!! Lazy passes, not decisive. Confidence issue? Took a holding call after being out-hustled and out-muscled by Caps F Chris Clark at the 6:45 mark of the 2nd. On the bench for much of the third.
Matt Gilroy: Still pushed off the puck too easily at times. Unbelievable how often and how deep he’ll carry the puck into the offensive zone. He looks more like a rover than a defenseman. Getting some critical PK time here in the third period; great learning experience under the gun.
All-in-all, this was a gutsy effort by the Rangers. They came from behind on two occasions, Lundqvist gave up the type of goal that gives goalies nightmares and the Rangers gave the Capitals 9 power plays and still came out on top in the end; this coming against a team the really lambasted us (despite going to 7 games) in the playoffs last year. Not bad, not bad at all.