After six tense, nail-biting contests between the Rangers and Capitals forced a game seven, New York blasted Washington in a surprise 5-0 blowout on the road delivering them to round two of the NHL playoffs. With a rare offensive outburst and stellar goaltending by all-star Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers move on to their next opponent in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
If playoff performance was considered in the voting for the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) Henrik Lundqvist would have the prize in a landslide after two consecutive shutouts in must win games during the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Monday night, the New York Rangers finished off the Washington Capitals with an unlikely, but very impressive 5-0 thrashing in game seven of their otherwise low scoring first round series. It was the first time the Rangers won a seventh game on the road.
Game 7 was filled with the Rangers trademark shot-blocking and stubborn defense but not expected was their five goal assault against the Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who previously had allowed only two goals in three playoff games on home ice. Even more surprising than the number of goals the Rangers produced early in the pivotal game 7, were the scorers themselves. Arron Asham converted his second goal of the playoffs, Taylor Pyatt, his first and Michael Del Zotto, also his first to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead less than half way through the second period. New York remained aggressive with its attack through all three periods, while shutting down Washington’s offense including the NHLs regular season goal scoring leader Alexander Ovechkin (32g, 24a, 56pts). In fact, the Rangers held the Caps superstar to only one goal in the entire series.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (4-3, 1.65 GAA, .947 SV%) was stellar in net for the second consecutive shutout performance stopping a combined 62 shots on goal in Games 6 and 7. The modest netminder gave plenty of credit to his teammates stating that “everybody just stepped up and played a great couple of games” referring to their 1-0 and 5-0 triumphs which bought them back from the brink of elimination to an impressive series conquest. Their hard work and dedication earned the Rangers a second round match up against the Boston Bruins who came back from a 4-1 third period deficit to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime during their Game 7 battle.
The series, which begins Thursday night in Boston will be the first playoff match up between the Rangers and Bruins in 40 years and promises to be another long exciting confrontation. In the other Eastern Conference semi-final match up, the Ottawa Senators play the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ottawa earned their way into the second round by surprising the favored Montreal Canadians in just five games. Pittsburgh, the odds on favorite in the east had their hands full against the young upstart New York Islanders but finally disposed of them in six hard fought games. In the west, the four remaining participants include Detroit, San Jose, Chicago and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.