Game 5: Caps win 4-0 behind two Bradley goals and Varlamov’s shutout

April 24, 2009 | Drew Forrester

9:30 pm — Now, it’s back to New York for another do-or-die game…only this time, on Sunday, the heat will be on the Rangers to hold serve at home.  A very impressive performance from the Caps tonight, who mixed an active offensive effort with very good team defense.  Simeon Varlamov wasn’t nearly as active in tonight’s shutout as he was in Game 3 on Monday in New York, but he was still very capable tonight and is clearly the team’s “goaltender of the future.”

The negative tonight – without question – was Washington’s power play (0-7).  If the Caps are going to win the last two games and claim this series, they’ll have to figure out a way to solve the Rangers outstanding penalty killing unit. 

And even though he had a terrific late 2nd period goal, I think Alex Ovechkin needs to contribute more offensively if the Caps are going to win Game 6 and 7.  Washington can’t win the next two games if The Great 8 doesn’t get on the scoreboard a few times.  

Who would have thought that through five games in this series, Ovechkin and Matt Bradley (2 goals in Game 5 tonight) would have the same goal total?  Right…no one.


9:15 pm — It’s 4-0 Washington with 8 minutes to play as the Caps have completely dominated Game 5 tonight at home.  New York is probably trying to put one on the scoreboard before the game ends “just because” — and I would kind of like that because I picked a 4-1 Caps final before the game.  Regardless, the Caps will once again face elimination on Sunday in New York (time not yet announced but it’s apparently going to be an afternoon game).  If Washington wins Game 6, the 7th and deciding game comes in Washington on Tuesday night.


9:05 pm — New York looks energized in this 3rd period but they still can’t put the puck past Simeon Varlamov as the Caps lead 4-0 with 13 minutes to play.  The Rangers entered the period with just eight shots on goal in the first two periods but they already have 4 shots in the first 7 minutes of this stanza.  


8:55 pm — The third period is underway and the Rangers are on the power play after some post-period penalties were handed out at the conclusion of the 2nd stanza.  Washington leads 4-0 and – as I mentioned might happen – the Rangers have pulled Henrik Lundqvist and have inserted Steve Valiquette in goal to start the final period.  Lundqvist will, of course, return to the cage on Sunday afternoon when these teams meet in Game #6…unless there’s a Verizon Center miracle in the next 19 minutes or so.  


8:35 pm — Alex Ovechkin’s highlight film goal late in the 2nd period has extended Washington’s lead to 4-0 through 40 minutes of play as the Rangers will need a miracle comeback tonight or these two teams will head to NY for a Sunday afternoon Game 6.  It’s been ALL Washington tonight — this one could easily be 6-0 or worse.  Henrik Lundqvist has been “off” this evening and the Caps haven’t been overly concerned about New York’s offense, as the Rangers have only posted eight shots through 2 periods.  Matt Bradley (2) and Alexander Semin have the other Washington goals.


8:28 pm — The Caps have just killed off a Nicklas Backstrom penalty and still lead 3-0 with a little less than 4 minutes to play in the 2nd period.  Brandon Dubinsky had a nice chance on that power play for NY but was stopped in front by Varlamov.  The Rangers have 8 shots on goal thus far tonight.  


8:20 pm —  We’re halfway through the hockey game in DC and the Caps are ahead 3-0 and really taking it to the Rangers tonight in Game 5.  The Rangers have probably had 3 legit scoring chances and they really didn’t come close to scoring on any of them.  Matt Bradley (2) and Alexander Semin have the Caps goals.  It’s been a great night thus far.  


8:10 pm — Who is the guy wearing Henrik Lundqvist’s jersey?  Lundqvist just got beat again five minutes into the 2nd period and it’s now a 3-0 Washington lead.  Alexander Semin just tallied his 3rd goal of the post-season.  This is exactly what the Caps needed tonight…to get untracked offensively and to show Lundqvist he’s not invincible.  In fact, I think the Caps can help end Lundqvist’s night if they can score again in the next five minutes or so.  


8:00 pm — The Caps have a great chance to put this one away if they can get another goal or two in the upcoming second period.  Simeon Varlamov hasn’t really been tested yet in Washington’s goal…it would be good to keep it that way.  They’re underway in period #2.


7:45 pm — I have to write it again just to halfway believe it.  Matt Bradley has more goals in this playoff series (2) than Alex Ovechkin.  Bradley has both Washington goals tonight and it’s 2-0 Caps after the first period.  It could EASILY be 4-0 or 5-0. Henrik Lundqvist – directly responsible for the game’s 2nd goal – has made a trio of close-range saves or this one would be out of hand.  If Washington can get a goal or two early in the 2nd period, New York coach John Tortorella might pull Lundqvist to rest him for Sunday’s Game 6 in New York.


7:33 pm — I forgot to mention this but it’s certainly worth nothing.  Rangers’ coach John Tortorella has seen enough of Sean Avery.  He scratched him from tonight’s game. 


7:28 pm — Matt Bradley now has more playoff goals this year than Alex Ovechkin.  Bradley just threw a desperation tight angle shot at Henrik Lundqvist for “s**ts and giggles” and the puck somehow squirted between the pads of the NY goaltender and it’s suddenly 2-0 Washington.  Bradley has been the team’s best player so far tonight — lots of energy and good work with linemates Dave Steckel and Brooks Laich.  Oddly enough, Washington is 0-for-2 on the power play tonight — but their goals have come shorthanded and just after their most recent power play concluded.  Weird.


7:25 pm — Washington is back on the power play with a chance to go up 2-0.  New York has just been penalized for too many men on the ice.  The line of Steckel, Laich and Bradley has been VERY effective so far…and Bradley has the game’s only goal — shorthanded — 5 minutes into the game.


7:19 pm — If you can’t score on the man-up, why not on the man-down?  That’s what just happened in Washington where Matt Bradley tucked a shorthanded breakaway past Henrik Lundqvist and the Caps go ahead early, 1-0.  That’s a HUGE goal for the Caps, who didn’t score their first goal on Wednesday in New York until about 12 minutes remained in the game.  Now, the Caps need to get the NEXT one and force the Rangers to go forward.




7:17 pm — That didn’t take long.  The Caps power play didn’t mount one shot and just seconds after Scott Gomez got out of the box, Washington was penalized.  The Rangers go to the extra-man with the chance to grab the early momentum.


7:15 pm — An early power play for the Caps as Scott Gomez slashed Alex Ovechkin in the game’s 2nd minute.  Washington’s power play killed them on Wednesday in New York.  Let’s see if it’s any better tonight.


I’m calling it 4-1 in favor of Washington.  Let’s hope I’m right.