Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) – Two nights after recording his first career playoff point, Andre Burakovsky followed it up with another milestone performance in Game 4.
Burakovsky’s two goals lifted the Washington Capitals to a 2-1 victory and a commanding 3-1 series lead over the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday.
Braden Holtby, who was coming off a 30-save shutout in Game 3 on Monday, provided another brilliant effort with 28 stops for the Capitals, who improved to 5-1 within the friendly confines of Verizon Center this postseason.
“I think both goaltenders have played very, very well,” Washington head coach Barry Trotz said. “I think both teams have confidence there. It gives you a little bit of a security blanket and you rally around those guys.”
Derick Brassard supplied the lone goal for the Rangers, who had another solid endeavor from Henrik Lundqvist wasted.
The Swedish netminder, making his 100th consecutive playoff start with New York, came up with 28 saves, but was let down by his offense.
Washington will look to wrap up the series in Game 5 on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Burakovsky tied the game with 3:31 left in the second period by stripping Chris Kreider along the right-wing boards, drifting across the slot and wristing a shot past Lundqvist.
The 20-year-old rookie struck again just 24 seconds into the final frame. After Troy Brouwer disrupted Ryan McDonagh in the neutral zone, Burakovsky gathered the loose puck and finished off a breakaway by lifting a backhander past Lundqvist for a 2-1 lead.
“I’ve been struggling a little with shots and I think I need to shoot more, and the guys have been on me telling me I need to shoot all the time,” said Burakovsky. “Today, I think I had a couple of shots on net that worked out pretty well.”
Eight minutes into the final frame, Carl Hagelin raced into the offensive zone and was hooked by Caps defenseman Mike Green enough to warrant a penalty shot. Hagelin moved in on net and backhanded a shot which was cooly gloved by Holtby to keep the Capitals in front.
“You’re going in there thinking you’re going to score, and that was my thought process,” Hagelin said. “I wanted to fake shot and then bring it to my backhand and (Holtby) was in the split there, and he made a good save.”
Three minutes later, Lundqvist stopped a Brooks Orpik slap shot and denied Joel Ward with a falling blocker save on the rebound at the post.
Lundqvist was pulled with a little over a minute to play, but the Rangers were unable to force an extra session.
New York outshot Washington by a 13-8 margin during a scoreless back-and-forth opening frame.
Less than three minutes into the second, Keith Yandle fired a shot from the right point that deflected off John Carlson’s skate and slid past a drifting Holtby. The puck skipped right to the stick of J.T. Miller, who was unable to react quick enough at the side of the net.
Brassard scored the game’s first goal 6:12 into the second period after driving down the middle, receiving a pass from Martin St. Louis and wristing a shot over Holtby’s right shoulder for his team-high fifth goal of the postseason.
Lundqvist came up with a timely save moments later. After Rick Nash’s short- handed opportunity, the Capitals moved up on the counter attack and worked the puck to Alex Ovechkin, who had multiple shots from the left circle turned aside.
Holtby improved to 7-2 at home against New York in the postseason … The Rangers entered with three straight Game 4 wins … The Capitals have killed off 22-of-23 short-handed situations this postseason, including 8-of-9 in this series … New York’s last 11 playoff games have been decided by one goal, an NHL record … Lundqvist joined Martin Brodeur (194, New Jersey) and Patrick Roy (133, Colorado) to record over 100 career playoff starts with a team … Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, which is given to the league’s top coach, alongside Calgary’s Bob Hartley and Nashville’s Peter Laviolette. Vigneault led the Rangers to the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy since 1994 with 53 wins and 113 points.