- Monday, April 30, 2012 9:09 PM
- Written By: Josh Marks
Buckle up for another intense battle in the second round between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. These two teams needed seven games to win round one, and seven games will likely decide this fierce battle. Tonight the Caps held serve and got the split at Madison Square Garden thanks to a game-winning goal by Captain Alex Ovechkin to make the final score 3-2. The series now heads to the Verizon Center 1-1.
There were many question marks regarding rookie goaltender Braden Holtby after a shaky game one. How would the 22-year-old respond to his first bout of adversity in his first playoff experience? It's so important to have confidence in your netminder. With that confidence shaken how would the team respond? Well, Holtby had a strong performance against the Rangers and was back to the same goalie that outdueled veteran Tim Thomas in round one. Holtby is back in a big way and that is good news for Caps fans.
You also need puck luck in the postseason. On Saturday afternoon the Caps hit the iron four times. Nothing went their way. Well, tonight the Rangers banged the post twice, including a Michael Del Zotto rocket near the end of the game that would have tied it up.
Lastly, Ovechkin played arguably the best game of his career in the playoffs. Earlier in the day he was quoted in the Washington Post saying that he needs to make better decisions and be smarter on the ice. That shows self awareness and a new found maturity that's been often lacking in Ovie's career, thus the reputation as having a low hockey IQ. Tonight Ovechkin looked like a man determined, someone serious about his responsibility on this team. When Ovie scored on the power play late in the third period to retake the lead after New York had fought back to tie the game, it lifted the entire team. Everyone seemed to work just a little bit harder. Gave of themselves just a little bit more. And the Caps hung on for the victory.
Ovechkin upped his game. Holtby bounced back. But the Rangers are relentless. They never give up. And plus they are blessed with Henrik Lundquist in goal so they are always assured of being in the game and having a chance. This is going to be a close series that both teams are comfortable playing. It will be tense for Rangers and Capitals fans, but for hockey fans it is going to be another wild ride from two great teams.