Thursday, February 4, 2010 11:33pm
By Joe Beninati
Its hard to believe the way they pulled this one out of nowhere tonight. I realize that the Caps are producing goals at an alarming rate, but there were several times tonight when I was saying to myself, thats it, they cant possibly recover this time. And thank goodness, they proved me wrong.
The outset of the game was listless. There wasnt much drive coming from the boys in white. The Rangers returned home from a west coast trip a step quicker and motivated to beat the hottest team in the league.
The New York power play had been dormant for two weeks, but was hot as a pistol this evening. Ryan Callahans deflection gave the home team the early advantage. Thank goodness for Jose Theodore in the first. The Rangers swarmed the Caps net.
Boyd Gordon scored on a well-placed snap shot to tie the score, but the Rangers responded 10 seconds later. Vinny Prospal had a huge game with four points, but he and the Rangers would be outdone by Nicklas Backstrom and the Caps. Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin put on a passing clinic for Mike Knuble, and the burly winger cashed in to keep up his hot hand.
The pace of play in the second period was dizzying. The teams combined for six goals, four of them the power play variety. It was a difficult night to be a goalie as quality scoring chances rained down on Theodore and Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers looked like they were going to take a 5-3 lead to the third when Ovechkin turned the game in D.C.s favor. He used speed, power, and finesse to score with just nine seconds left in the middle frame. It was a brilliant display that resulted in his 500th NHL point. Hes reached that total so quickly and with such flair, it has been a privilege for me to describe his accomplishments.
The stage was set for a third period rally, and the guys did not fail to deliver. Tom Poti snuck a long wrist shot past a surprised and screened Lundqvist to tie it up. Then Backstrom ripped a slap shot on the power play to conclude an incredible five-point night for himself. The momentum switch came suddenly, but there were still 13 minutes left to sweat out a Rangers rally.
Thankfully, in the last four or five minutes of the game, the Rangers took undisciplined penalties, and that gave the Caps the advantage that they needed. Washington would seal the deal and bring back a twelfth consecutive win in a row back to DC, back to the snow, and to face the Thrashers on Friday night.