By Rodger M. WoodTrying to forget an overtime loss in the first game and silence the 20,000+ sea of red at the Verizon Center Friday night, the Rangers came out shooting, failed to get a puck past rookie goalie, Michal Neuvirth, and lost the second game of the quarterfinal playoffs 2-0.23-year old Neuvirth stopped 13 shots in the first period. Stymied by the Caps chokehold defense, the Rangers mustered only 9 shots on the net the second and third periods. Early in the game, a thunderous roar of “Neuvy, Neuvy, Neuvy” started greeting the fans’ new found hero every time he stopped a shot.Skating fast and furious, Caps third line of Brooks Laich, Marcus Johanssen, and Jason Chimera took charge of the ice in the second period. Assisted by line mates, Chimera gave the Caps a 1-0 lead at the 2:11 mark, and barreling into Ranger players the entire game, a psychological lift with 5 hits the rest of the game.Assisted by Mike Green, and Alex Ovechkin, Jason Arnott gave the Caps a power play insurance goal a couple minutes later. Whenever on the ice, it was reassuring to see Arnott and line mate, Marcos Sturm calmly playing veteran hockey.The Caps’ suffocating defense and tough back checking punished the Rangers. Ovie and Chimera set the tone with six and five hard hits each, and each other Capital, except Mike Green, made the Rangers keep their heads up with a hit each.Doing the little things necessary to win playoff games, John Erskine, Niklaus Backstrom, and Karl Alzner blocked three shots each. Late in the third period, Green blocked a hard shot from Rangers Russian Fedotenko to keep the Rangers from tying the game.Showing frustration In the second period, the Rangers started resorting to Coach Tortorella’s infamous goon tactics. Rangers biggest culprit, Sean Avery was seen bumping Neuvy every time he passed by him, including a couple times when the play was well down ice out of the referee’s sight. LW Brandon Prust kept trying to get things going with Erskine, and defenseman Marc Stahl took cheap shots on Ovie and Johanssen’s backs.But their tactics didn’t work and the Caps kept laying Brian Boyle and the rest of the Rangers out on the ice. They kept their cool preventing the NY goons from changing their winning ways. The result was a 2-0 shutout, a commanding 2 games to 0 lead in the series, and a strong hope to win two games in New York to win the series.The Caps/Rangers play the third game in a 3:00 PM matinee game at New York Sunday.Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman is back on the ice skating. The prognosis is that he could possibly return to play as early as a week.
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