Just when Washington Capitals fans have thought they’ve seen it all, their beloved Caps found another way to lose a huge game, and perhaps a playoff series.
With the Caps clinging to a one goal lead and just 22 seconds left, Joel Ward did the UNTHINKABLE, he got careless with his stick and took a double minor penalty.
And you can guess what happened next, the Rangers pulled their goalie and tied the game with seven seconds left and then won it in ovetime on the second half of the power play on a Marc Staal point blast.
It was as cruel a loss as Caps fans can likely remember as they had a 3-2 series lead right there in the palm of their hand only to get careless.
The Rangers now lead this best of seven series three games to two with game six set for Verizon Center on Wednesday night. The Caps have never won a playoff series that was tied after four games when they’ve lost game five, they’d also won every playoff series in which they won game five in that same scenario.
What is even more of a killer is that Washington survived a terrible 1st period and seemed ready to take control of the series when John Carlson scored on the power play 4:20 into period three. The Caps would play a really good final stanza, up until the end, and get several odd man chances. Nicklas Backstrom hit the iron on a breakaway as Henrik Lundqvist got a piece of the shot, then the Capitals had a three on one but Staal made a great play to break that up. Those missed opportunities can sometimes come back to haunt you.
Still with 22 seconds left, it looked good for Washington, then Ward, who was the hero in Boston in game seven, snatched the goat horns. But the Caps could’ve still killed the six on four situation but the Rangers once again got a bounce they needed as Ryan Callahan tipped the puck to Brad Richards just before Braden Holtby was about to cover the puck. The Blueshirts pulled it out and then took advantage of the double minor carrying over to OT.
The question now is can the Capitals respond to adversity once again? This is as bad of a loss as I can remember in Washington hockey history. The only good news is there is still at least one more game to play.
Guess we will find out what this team is made of on Wednesday night.
Notes: In 12 Caps playoff games, the team scoring first has now won 11 of them…Alex Semin took two elbows to the head in the middle frame and only played one more shift that period. He did play in the third period. Dan Girardi had one of the elbows and it was #6 who smashed Mike Green in overtime and came up off of the ice on the play. If it was a Cap player doing that the New York media would start whining from here to California…