Alex Ovechkin answered the critics who say his lessened ice time in these playoffs is the reason the Washington Capitals are still hanging around. In a Game 4 that was awfully close to must-win at home, Ovechkin scored in the first period to set the tone, laid a big hit in the second—and stayed involved in the offense throughout, as the Caps grabbed a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers and tied the series two games apiece in the lone NHL game of Saturday.
After falling behind 1-0, New York rallied behind Artem Anisov, who first scored and then fed Marian Gaborik for another goal, both sandwiched around a Caps score and the game was tied going into the third period. With five minutes to play and Washington on the power play, defenseman Mike Green scored what held up as the game-winner.
Washington won the battle of shots 26-20 and the fact four came from Ovechkin and four more from Alexander Semin tells you they were high-quality shots. Conversely, while Gaborik continues to start scoring, he was limited to two shots and fellow scoring forward Ryan Callahan was a complete non-factor. The Rangers failed to seriously test Braden Holtby, the kid goalie who looks more like one who had a magic two weeks against Boston and Tim Thomas, then a real Stanley Cup-quality goaltender. New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist continues to oscillate between championship-caliber and frustrating, a circumstance that makes me wonder how many heart attacks and nervous breakdowns the Rangers will be responsible for in the fan base if they keep this run going all the way through the playoffs. The human psyche is just not made to go and up and down that many times.
There’s two games today and the NBC game this afternoon at 3 PM ET is Los Angeles’ effort to close out a stunning sweep against St. Louis. Remember, Vancouver was able to win a Game 4 in the Staples Center with all the money on the table. Now St. Louis has to at least give their fans another home game with a win here. Then in prime-time it’s Philadelphia-New Jersey. As this series unfolds, the inconsistency of Flyer center Claude Giroux is becoming a storyline. He doesn’t need to score, but the offense has to run through him to be effective, so let’s see how active one of the league’s best passers will be against one of the league’s best team defenses.