May 5, 2012
Green lifts Caps over Rangers
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
In a town where politicians can go from heroes to zeroes in a blink of an eye, Mike Green certainly knows the feeling.
Not-so-long-ago considered to be one of better offensive defencemen in the league, a series of injuries combined with a penchant of making silly defensive plays in his own end certainly caused his image to plop in the eyes of many fans.
As a result, Green probably felt a bit of redemption on Saturday when his third period goal gave his Washington Capitals a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers at the raucous Verizon Center.
The victory pulled the Caps even at 2-2 in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal, which resumes Monday with Game 5 in New York.
Green’s power play goal was a blast from the top of the faceoff circle that cleanly beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 14:12 of the third period.
The two days off between Games 3 and 4 seemed to do the Capitals a world of good.
Ok, technically, since Marian Gaborik’s triple overtime winner in New York’s 2-1 Game 3 victory came in the wee hours of Thursday morning, it wasn’t quite two full days between games. Either way, you get the point.
Whatever the case, the Caps came out for Game 4 with the type of fresh legs and speed that normally is the trademark of a team playing with desperation.
The only reason they didn’t run the Rangers right out of the building was Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped all seven shots he faced in the first few minutes before his team had even registered one. None was better than the glove stop he made off Alex Ovechkin, whose goal mouth deflection seemed destined for the top corner until Lundqvist snapped it out of the air.
Ovechkin would gain some semblance of revenge minutes later when his blast from the point handcuffed Lundqvist to put the hosts up 1-0 at 12:43 of the first period. Lundqvist did manage to get a piece of the shot with his glove, but not enough to keep the puck from going into the net.
The second period was an entirely different story. The once moribund Rangers did not allow the Caps a shot on goal for the first 12 minutes, all the while scoring a goal of their own to tie the game 1-1.
Artem Anisimov, who had been chewed out by combustible Rangers coach John Tortorella earlier in the game, pulled New York just 1:10 into the second when Dan Girardi’s point shot deflected off the skate of a Caps defender and came right to him. Anisimov quickly deked around lunging Caps goalie Braden Holtby to knot the game up.
Washington regained the lead at 11:54 of the second when Nicklas Backstrom blasted a shot from the high slot into the top corner to put Washington up 2-1. Backstrom started the play by planting Anisimov on his butt in the corner, then working his way to the front of the net where the puck eventually found him.
The Rangers would come back to tie the game for a second time, thanks to a bone-headed play by Caps defenceman Dennis Wideman.
When Marc Staal flipped the puck down the ice from his own end, Wideman lollygagged after it and was beaten to it by Anisimov. He quickly fed it in front to Marian Gaborik, who quickly slid it over the goal line at 16:43 before Wideman and Holtby realized what had happened.
That would set the stage for Green’s heroics in the third period.