How frustrating for the owner, the players and the fans to be up 3-1 in the series against the Rangers and to lose 3 straight games and lose the series 3-4. The teams were obviously evenly matched. They won or lost each game by one goal and two games went into overtime. Exciting hockey.
But game 6 was inexcusable. Did the Capitals think they had it all wrapped up? How could they, they had just let the Rangers back in with an overtime win in game 5 to bring the series to 3-2. You knew the Rangers were going to fight back. Scoring goals in hockey is tough compared to a lot of sports. So when the Capitals found themselves down by 3 goals, there was serious questions about the ultimate results of the series.
But suddenly they came alive. First Evgeny Kuznetsov flipped a puck from close range up into the top of the net to start the scoring. Then forward Joel Ward poked a rebound back into the goal. So in three minutes they had turned things around and only needed one more goal.
With 2:44 left, there was a penalty called and the Capitals pulled their goalie and put 6 men on the ice. They had 2 shots on goal but both were blocked. The Capitals didn’t get another chance and they lost by 1.
It was a sad ending to a great season. New coach Barry Trotz had taken a very good team and made it even better over the season. All the players were playing some of the best hockey of their lives and their record showed it, giving them home ice advantage for the start of the playoffs.
Not only were all the games decided by one goal, but the Rangers only scored one more goal than the Capitals for the whole series, 14 goals to 13 goals.
It didn’t help that the Capitals were playing in Madison Square Garden and not at home. The Rangers had won six straight game 7s at Madison Square. The Rangers also had the best record for the season by a good margin.
The Capitals star, Alex Ovechkin, took first blood with a goal in the first period. But then they had to spend a lot of energy killing several penalties. With only a few seconds left killing their 4th penalty, defenseman Brooks Orpik messed up a clear attempt. The Rangers took advantage and with some sweet passing got it to Kevin Hayes on the back side who tapped it in for an easy goal.
The Capitals were not able to convert on a power play against the Rangers in the second period. The third period was scoreless for both theams. And then there was overtime. It ended when there was a faceoff in the Capitals end after an icing penalty. They had been great at faceoffs, but lost this one. A shot was taken, a rebound straight to Derek Stepan with an open net and the season was over.