They played well into a third overtime and a total of 114:41 minutes on Wednesday night, but in the end the Rangers' 2-1 win over the Capitals counts as just one game. Two days off await for wounds to heal, bodies to rest, and for Washington to get past perhaps their most deflating loss of the season.
They will now have to find the energy to bounce back and even up a series suddenly tipped in New Yorks direction.
You invest a lot every night, no matter what; if its a 60-minute game or extended into overtime. When you extend into overtime you are investing more and more and you are putting everything youve got into it, Matt Hendricks said.
Unfortunately, we didnt win tonight, but we cant let that bother us. We just need to get prepared for the next one.
Not only was it a long game the third longest in franchise history and longest ever at the Verizon Center- but Washington had to continue after several prime scoring chances they failed to cash in on. Two shots in the first overtime had to be especially tough to move on from.
Troy Brouwer had a chance about five minutes into overtime that was set up masterfully by Hendricks. New Yorks Ryan McDonagh was skating up the left boards with the puck when Hendricks met him with a brutal shoulder check, leaving the Rangers defenseman falling to the ice and a loose puck headed towards the net. Hendricks brought the puck around the back of the goal and found Brouwer at the doorstep. His shot went wide right, a misfire Brouwer lamented after the game.
I gotta at least get it on net, give it a chance to go in, he said. But you gotta be a professional about it and try to put it in the back of your mind.
Brouwers had a great opportunity, but it was a clear miss. Ten minutes later, Ovechkin had a shot that had many in attendance convinced the game was over.
Coming in off a line change, Ovechkin skated directly towards the goal and immediately gained possession of the puck. New Yorks Anton Stralman lost his handle as Ovechkin skated by and saw an open look at Henrik Lundqvist. Ovechkin found space to the right of the Rangers goalie but clanked it off the post. It was so close the goal horn was accidentally set off.
Play continued for another 40 minutes after and the Capitals never got closer. They now sit down 2-1 in the series with another home game coming up in Game 4. Despite the historic length of Game 3 this time around, the Capitals are familiar with their situation.
We know we can do it. We were down 2-1 and lost here against Boston and here in our first game too. We just have to go out and battle the next game, head coach Dale Hunter said.
It is good for our heads to know we were in the exact same position against a very, very good team and we managed to climb out of that, defenseman Karl Alzner said.
Im sure the guys will be fine, weve lost in overtime in these playoffs already and weve found a good way to bounce back. We are a lot mentally tougher of a team than we have been in the past.
In the first round the Capitals lost both Game 1 and Game 6 to the Bruins in overtime. Their third loss in the seven game series, in Game 3, came after a late goal (18:07 in 3rd) by Zdeno Chara. They have battled back from devastating losses and shown they can move on.
Besides simply focusing on the next game, there was one theme that stood out among comments from the Capitals players and their head coach. They stressed how they werent the only team that had played all those minutes. It was mentioned by almost everybody how the Rangers are also feeling the effects from such a long game.
Mentally well park it, Brooks Laich said. We didnt get the result but the physical took a lot out of both teams.
Both teams went through it. Its a game where they both played the same minutes, its the same players, same game. Were always in the same boat, Hunter said.
Alzner said the way they are playing isnt the problem and that Washingtons depth could end up making the difference after such a long game.
Were playing well and eventually I think those guys are probably going to get a little tired. They have a lot of guys logging a lot of minutes. We just have to keep going with the program.