After their 114:41 minute game on Wednesday, the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals were probably grateful for a couple days off. However, on Saturday (12:30 pm ET, NBC) their series will resume with Game 4.
For the Washington Capitals, this game will be about putting the devastating setback behind them and erasing the Rangers’ one-game edge. This will also be the latest in a long series of big tests for Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who successfully bounced back from two overtime losses in the first round. In fact, Holtby hasn’t lost back-to-back games so far in the 2012 playoffs.
“What really impresses me most about him in the playoffs is his resiliency,” Former Washington goaltender Olie Kolzig said. “Whether he gives up a bad goal or has a bad game, he’ll come back and make that next big save or he’ll come back and win the next game.”
Of course, Holtby can’t win this series by himself. Other Capitals need to step up too, like Alex Ovechkin did in Game 2. Ovechkin couldn’t find the back of the net on Wednesday, but he did record nine hits in 35:14 minutes of ice time. Capitals coach Dale Hunter has typically used Ovechkin conservatively, but after his work in Games 2 and 3, he might get big minutes on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have an opportunity to take a commanding lead in the series by winning another game in Washington. All eyes will be on Marian Gaborik, who snapped an eight-game goal scoring drought on Wednesday with his triple-overtime winner. If he can turn that goal into the start of a hot streak, then it will be very hard to contain the Rangers.
Ryan McDonagh will be another New York player to watch. Even after two days off, how will he respond after logging an incredible 53:17 minutes on Wednesday?
Game 3 was important and dramatic, but the bigger test for both teams will be to put that marathon game behind them and focus solely on Saturday’s contest.
Game 4 Notes:
— Washington and New York are still the top two playoff teams when it comes to blocked shots.
— New York’s Stu Bickel logged just 3:24 minutes in the triple-overtime contest.
— The Rangers and Capitals are both 3-0 when leading after 40 minutes.
— Henrik Lundqvist has been arguably the best goaltender of the playoffs with a 1.55 GAA and .944 save percentage in 10 starts.