Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has been the star of a series against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers so far, but Game 4 featured maybe his most brilliant moment.
Mike Green was forced to obstruct speedy Rangers winger Carl Hagelin, setting the stage for an almost-cinematic situation. The Rangers were down 2-1 in the third period, but Hagelin could tie it up on a penalty shot.
The result was dramatic, yet Holtby came through with a beautiful glove save:
Keep that one in mind. Chances are, Holtby’s agent will cue that clip up during his looming contract negotiatons …
Goals have been very hard to come by lately for both the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals, so Derick Brassard’s 1-0 tally could be a big one in Game 3.
It was a beautiful play between Brassard, Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash, as you can see below:
If you feel like Brassard is the only Rangers player who’s scoring, you’re not totally outrageous. He has five of their 16 postseason goals, and has been the only one to find the net in some time:
The bright side for the Rangers: the Capitals haven’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard, either.
Wednesday night presents two games of Eastern Conference playoff action. By the end of it, we may get a better idea of how many semifinal series could be long or short.
First off, the New York Rangers hope to even things up in their second-round series against the Washington Capitals, who currently hold a 2-1 edge. Will Braden Holtby continue to make a name for himself or will Henrik Lundqvist get the edge tonight? Find out on NBCSN and also by streaming the game via NBC Sports Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Next, the Montreal Canadiens find themselves in a desperate situation: not only are they down 2-0 to the Lightning, but the next two games take place in Tampa Bay. We’ll get a better idea of what this Habs team is made of in Game 3, which airs on USA Network and can be streamed via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
The two contests are staggered 30 minutes apart, but with these streams, you can watch both at once. Ah, the wonders of technology.
The first three games of the New York Rangers and Capitals’ second round series have been determined by one goal and Washington has won two of those contests. Since the playoffs began, Washington is 5-2 in one-goal games, putting them ahead of every team but the Chicago Blackhawks (5-0) in that regard.
The ability to win close contests can be vital in the playoffs and Washington’s success in this area is in contrast to its playoff runs from 2008-13 when it posted a combined 18-22 record in one-goal games.
“The pressure definitely gains during the games when it’s only one goal. Every mistake or mishap can go in the back of your net. And you obviously don’t want to think that way, but the pressure’s there,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green noted, per the Associated Press.
“But I think we’ve done a good job of handling it, really. You don’t really feel that panic out on the ice or on the bench that maybe in recent years you felt.”
Green thinks there could be a lot of different reasons for that, including maturity and experience, but it could also be the influence of new Capitals coach Barry Trotz. Rangers forward Martin St. Louis has noticed a change in them.
“They play a heavier game, probably, now. They probably get pucks in deep a little more. They’re allowed to sustain offensive zone time. It’s a team that’s good off the rush and heavy down low,” St. Louis said.
Even still, Washington’s edge over the Rangers has been thin thus far. New York has an opportunity to even the series tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action …
Canadiens at Lightning, 7:00 p.m. ET on USA
Montreal is down 2-0 in its second round series after also losing all five of its regular season games against Tampa Bay. The Canadiens just can’t seem to figure the Lightning out and time isn’t on their side. It certainly doesn’t help Montreal that Steven Stamkos ended his postseason goal scoring drought in Game 2. Given what Tampa Bay accomplished while he was struggling, the squad should be very dangerous if he gets hot.
The silver lining for the Canadiens is that they will likely get David Desharnais back tonight. The 28-year-old forward had the flu and was hospitalized at one point to get re-hydrated. However, after initially staying behind when his teammates traveled to Tampa Bay, he was able to rejoin them on Tuesday. He’s been averaging 16:40 minutes per game in the playoffs, so Montreal had a significant hole to fill when he was absent for Game 2.
Rangers at Capitals, 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The first three games of this second round series have been decided by just one goal, so it’s fair to say that these squads have been evenly matched. In Game 3, the difference was a somewhat fluky marker by Washington’s Jay Beagle. That being said, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had the best game out of anyone with 30 saves to post the shutout. He now has a 1.54 GAA and .949 save percentage in the playoffs and is one of the main reasons Washington has its 2-1 series edge over the Rangers.
Netminder Henrik Lundqvist has been great too, but he hasn’t gotten much help from the Rangers’ top forwards. Rick Nash has just one goal in eight playoff contests while Martin St. Louis hasn’t found the back of the net in the 2015 postseason. If Nash and St. Louis don’t bounce back then the Rangers will have a lot of difficulty getting past Washington.