Ribeiro pushes Rangers to brink of eliminaton

Ribeiro pushes Rangers to brink of eliminaton
May 11, 2013, 12:45 am
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Caps-Rangers Game 5 highlights: Caps win in OT

If Mike Ribeiro had wings he might have soared over the glass and flown around the VerizonCenter, which was shaking to its core after he scored 9 minutes, 24 seconds into overtime.

“The puck just sat there and I was at the right place, right moment,” Ribeiro said of his first playoff goal since April 27, 2008 with the Dallas Stars. “A lot of emotion. The building goes nuts.

“I kind of jumped a few times and then I thought, ‘Geez, I’m tired of jumping. I need some water now. I tried to pull an Ovi there.”

Ribeiro’s goal gave the Capitals a three games to two lead in their best-of-seven series against the New York Rangers, a series the Capitals can end Sunday afternoon in New York. Puck drop is 4:30, with a CSN pre-game show beginning at 4 p.m.

“We’re happy,” Ribeiro said. “But 10 minutes after this game we’re focused on the next one.”

The Capitals are 6-4 when leading a playoff series 3-2. They are 2-10 when trailing a playoff series 3-2.

That alone made Friday night’s victory critical.

The Caps didn’t exactly get off to an encouraging start. Brian Boyle scored on the Rangers’ first shot of the game just 53 seconds after the opening faceoff and the Caps didn’t respond until the second period when Joel Ward scored a power-play goal 11 seconds after Boyle gave Ribeiro a slash to the back of the calves.

“It’s a good thing I don’t have much there,” Ribeiro joked, “so it didn’t hurt.”

“It’s a dumb penalty,” Rangers coach John Tortorella told reporters after the game, “and you don’t kill those off.”

After getting outplayed and losing Games 3 and 4 in New York, the Caps were far more effective in Game 5. They outshot the Rangers 35-25, including 13-4 in the third period. They also outhit New York 53-43, a major switch from the two games in New York, where the Rangers outhit the Caps 71-42.

“Games 3 and 4 is when they made all their big changes,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We adapted to that tonight by finding ways to get pucks out of the zone, use our speed and we just have to keep going.”

The Caps also converted on one of their two power plays and held the Rangers scoreless on four man-advantages, during which Matt Hendricks blocked seven shots.

“Hendy had two or three blocks on that first one alone,” Alzner said.

The Caps will practice Saturday at noon then catch a flight for New York, where they’ll play at 4:30 for the first time all season. Game 7, if necessary, will be back in D.C. on Monday night.

“Our mentality before the game was pretty much we had to win,” Alzner said. “We didn’t want to go into MSG on the brink. I don’t think there’s too many things better than to beat a team in their rink, especially a rink as tough as that one. We’re fortunate to be in that spot, but they’re not going to go down [easy]. They have a great team.”

Just ask Tortorella.

“I don’t consider it an elimination game,” Tortorella said. “We’re trying to win one game. I’m not going to even use that word.”