The New York Rangers couldn't solve Braden Holtby this evening, and were defeated 1-0 by the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of the Metropolitan Division Finals. For starters, the Rangers were by far the better team this evening, but couldn't get a bounce to fall in their favor. The Capitals however, scored the only goal on a fluke deflection off of Keith Yandle's skate, and unfortunately, that wound up being the goal that decided the outcome of this game.
Don't get me wrong, that's not a jab at Holtby either, because he stood on his head tonight for the Capitals. The Rangers had another quick start to this game, but weren't able to get enough traffic in front of Holtby to take away his vision in front of the net.
Just like Holtby, Henrik Lundqvist also played one heck of a game, including several huge saves on the penalty kill with Alex Ovechkin looking to break through. After a scoreless first period, the Capitals broke through with the only goal coming at the 7:31 mark of the second period. Jay Beagle was able to catch a lucky break to the right side of the net, and the puck deflected past Lundqvist to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.
Just prior to the goal, Beagle had another quality chance in between the hash marks, but Lundqvist was able to shut down the potential scoring opportunity. Heading into the third period, the Rangers changed up their gameplan and started activating their defensemen inside the offensive zone in an attempt to find the tying goal. While the Rangers certainly got their chances as a result, it also lead to several counterattacks by the Capitals with tired legs coming back on the backcheck.
As the clock ticked under a minute, the Rangers made one final push with Lundqvist on the bench for the extra attacker. Unfortunately, Holtby stood his ground and completed the shutout while turning away the 30 shots the Rangers tossed his way. This was one of this games you really can't be upset about, even if the result didn't fall in the Rangers favor.
They were the better team for the most part, like this entire series, and sometimes, the luck doesn't break in your favor. The Rangers just need to carry over all of the good for this game, and make a big push on Wednesday in Game 4. As we've seen all year long, and even last year, this Rangers team doesn't quit when their backs are up against the wall.
Bring on Game 4.