Well, that definitely was the type of start the New York Rangers wanted to this series, especially with the first two games being in Washington. Although the Rangers weathered the storm in the opening minutes, they wound up coming away with the games first goal. From there on? The Capitals would scored three unanswered goals in the second period, two of which, Henrik Lundqvist would want to have back.
It's also worth pointing out the officiating in this game, not just against the Rangers, but both sides. You would have never known this was a playoff game with the type of penalties that were called in this game. Jay Beagle even got a penalty for missing his hit, and catching the glass. That's the type of officiating that went on in this game. Hopefully it's much different on Saturday.
The Rangers started this game out on their heels, falling in a big 11-1 shot deficit early on, as the Capitals put on an clinch. A large part of weathering that storm was because of the man named Henrik Lundqvist, who was up to the task early on, even after having four days of rest. However, even though the Rangers were sluggish to start the game, the penalty to Jay Beagle with just over six minutes left in the first, lifted their spirits quite a bit. Carl Hagelin came away with his first career playoff goal (yes, this is actually true), after a sequence of bounces behind the Capitals net. Hagelin made a quite jolt towards the right side of the net, and wound up banking it off John Erskine's skate, and in behind Brayden Holtby. That's the crazy thing about momentum, and the game of hockey: anything can happen.
With the Rangers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Arron Asham was whistled down for a penalty which was originally deemed a charge. But with what was shown on the replay, there was no sign of a charge whatsoever, as Asham took three steps, glided, and barely made contact with his man. What's even more mind boggling is the fact that the call was later changed to an illegal check to the head (?). On that ensuing power play, Alex Ovechkin would wind up tapping in a loose puck which tied up the game at 1-1.
The Rangers would than get their chance to get back into the game as Martin Erat and Jason Chimera took penalties a minute apart, to give the Rangers a short lived 5-on-3 advantage. While the power play wasn't able to muster up anything tonight, there's no denying that the Rangers had their fair share of chances, and pretty good ones too. They either missed the net completely, or Brayden Holtby was right there to make the save.
Several minutes after the failed two-man advantage, the Capitals were able to string together a pair of goals that were only 46 seconds apart. First it was Marcus Johansson would scored off of a great stretch pass from Steven Olesky, which split right between Dan Girardi, and Ryan McDonagh. Johnasson walked right it, and snapped a shot that caught a piece of Lundqvist and trickled into the net. While Lundqvist should want that goal back, there should never have been a breakaway in the first place as Girardi and McDonagh both blew the coverage on Johansson streaking at the blue line.
Shortly after the go-ahead goal, Jason Chimera scored off a very broken played, and whipped a hopeful shot on net. Somehow Lundqvist wasn't able to pick up the puck, and it slid right between his legs for the 3-1 lead. That one definitely falls on Lundqvist, and it's one that likely bugged him for the rest of the game. It was a weird goal, and something Lundqvist usually tracks down pretty easily.
With the Rangers down two goals heading into the third period, the Rangers needed to come out with a strong start. They did just that early on, but weren't able to solve Holtby. With just under five minutes remaining in the game, John Moore had a golden opportunity to pull the Rangers within a goal. Moore wound up flipped the puck over a sprawling Holtby, as the puck appeared to slide behind him and into the net. The play would be reviewed, and it was pretty obvious that the puck was in the net, but there was no conclusive evidence as you couldn't see the puck at all. Unfortunately that's how it goes, and it's hard to argue the call because it was right.
Time would eventually run out on the Rangers, and they dropped the first game to go down 1-0 in the series. Although the loss was tough, this series isn't close to being over, as the Rangers could easily make us all forget this loss with a big win on Saturday afternoon. If that happens, I'm sure we'll all be happy splitting the games in Washington, and swing it back home for two games at Madison Square Garden.