Chalk up another win for the Southeast Division champs -- enough to give them at least two more days of life in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Facing elimination, the Capitals played their best game of the series against the New York Rangers for a 4-0 victory. They chased a player they've been calling "The Difference," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, after just 40 minutes and 14 shots on goal -- and also got a second shutout from their 20-year-old rookie goalie, Simeon Varlamov.
Game 6, another elimination game for the Capitals, is Sunday afternoon back at Madison Square Garden. If the Caps win, Game 7 will be back at the Verizon Center on Tuesday night.
"That's our goal," Alex Ovechkin said of coming back home for an all-or-nothing Game 7. "We never give up. We fight and we love this situation. It's hard, but we love it."
For the first time all series, the Capitals actually managed to get to Lundqvist -- despite taking a series-low 21 shots. Matt Bradley, the third-line right wing who scored the game's first two goals, beat Lundqvist on a shorthanded breakaway 4:58 into the first period.
However, it was his second goal that showed the Caps that, yes, Lundqvist is human, too.
Bradley shot the puck from about a foot above the goal line and roughly 25 feet off the left post. Lundqvist tried to stand up and make the save by covering his five-hole, but he couldn't do it and the puck somehow popped through his pads at 12:07.
Lundqvist, who looked back into his net in disbelief as the sirens went off and the lights flashed, called it a "brutal goal" and said it was "just a bad decision" to stand up instead of going down on one knee.
"That's on me, that goal," said the goalie who had stopped 141 of 149 shots through the first four games of the series. "No question about it."
Bradley was as surprised as Lundqvist to see the red light go on.
"I wasn't trying to score and I didn't think I would score on that," Bradley said. "I was just trying to get it on net, and sometimes against great goalies like that if you could get a couple of lucky ones that's what you need to get the win."
Bradley, who swapped places on the third line with Eric Fehr for Game 5, became only the fifth player in the last 40 years to have his first playoff goal be a shorthanded tally that held up for the game winner. Kurt Sauer did it last for Anaheim back in 2003.
"I think the memory is Matt Bradley," defenseman Mike Green said. "He's the superstar (Friday night)."
After getting two goals from an unexpected source and limiting the Rangers to three shots in the first period, the Caps saw their superstars come out to play in the second, chasing Lundqvist from the net.
Alexander Semin beat him on a quick snap shot after Nicklas Backstrom won an in-zone faceoff back to him 4:57 into the second period. Backstrom beat Rangers center Blair Betts and Semin wasted no time one-timing a shot past Lundqvist.
Nearly 15 minutes later, with the roaring red-clad sellout crowd derisively chanting, "Hen-rik, Hen-rik, Hen-rik" -- they did it after every goal -- Alex Ovechkin came up with the play of the series so far, one that probably immediately found its way onto YouTube.
Ovechkin got around Chris Drury at the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo in the offensive zone, then put the puck through Derek Morris' legs. He regained control by kicking the puck slightly forward with his left skate, and while falling down swatted a backhander that beat Lundqvist to the low far side with 29 seconds left in the second.
Ovechkin called it a lucky bounce that he got the puck back after putting it through Morris' legs. He also mocked his backhand a little bit, showing some surprise that he scored with it while falling down.
"I wish I could have done it," Boudreau said. "It was pretty nice. I'll give him another shift the next game."
Lundqvist, who gave up his net to Stephen Valiquette for the third period, allowed four goals on just 14 shots after stopping 38 of 39 in a brilliant effort Wednesday night.
It's not as if the Rangers' offense helped him. They were shut out for the second time in the series by Varlamov, who made 20 relatively easy saves, and their power play was again non-existent, going 0-for-4 with only one shot on goal. The Rangers are just 2-for-22 on the power play in the series and are scoreless in their last 18 tries.
At one point in the third period Rangers coach John Tortorella even used fourth-liners Blair Betts and Colton Orr on the power play for roughly a minute each.
"I used practically everybody," Tortorella said. "As we get deeper and deeper, and now we're in Game 6, something has to give here."
Tortorella decided to bench controversial forward Sean Avery, who has 24 penalty minutes in this series, but discipline was still a problem for the Rangers. They committed 11 penalties totaling 38 minutes.
The Caps were 0-for-7 on the power play and are now just 4-for-29 in the series.
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com
|SHG - Matt Bradley (1) ASST: Boyd Gordon (1), Mike Green (3)|
1 - 0 WSH
|Matt Bradley (2) ASST: Brooks Laich (1), Tom Poti (1)|
2 - 0 WSH
|Alexander Semin (4) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (5)|
3 - 0 WSH
|Alex Ovechkin (2) ASST: Sergei Fedorov (2)|
4 - 0 WSH
|Power Play %||20.3%||25.0%|
|% on Road||24.0%||20.0%|
|% at Home||17.6%||27.9%|
|Scott Gomez Slashing against Alex Ovechkin|
|Brian Pothier Tripping against Nik Antropov|
|Colton Orr Too many men/ice - bench|
|Shaone Morrisonn Hooking against Marc Staal|
|Nik Antropov Slashing against Tomas Fleischmann|
|Nicklas Backstrom Hooking against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Ryan Callahan Roughing against John Erskine|
|John Erskine Roughing against Ryan Callahan|
|John Erskine Roughing against Ryan Callahan|
|Donald Brashear Misconduct (10 min) against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Donald Brashear Roughing against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Brandon Dubinsky Roughing against Donald Brashear|
|Aaron Voros Roughing against Milan Jurcina|
|Brandon Dubinsky Charging against Alexander Semin|
|Colton Orr Holding against Alexander Semin|
|Colton Orr Roughing against Alexander Semin|
|Colton Orr Misconduct (10 min) against Alexander Semin|
|Aaron Voros Misconduct (10 min)|
|Tomas Fleischmann Hooking against Michal Rozsival|