By Rodger M. WoodThe Caps retaliated to Rangers goon tactics in a hostile Madison Square Gardens, got caught and gave up too many power plays, forgot how to check and block shots, and lost a Gotham street fight 3-2.While the Rangers scored on only one of them, the young Caps gave up eight power plays, two of which were 5 on 3’s. Boyd Gordon and the penalty kill unit were worn down chasing down the likes of Erik Christensen, Marian Gaborak, Brandon Dubinsky, Bryan McCabe, and Vinny Prospal.In the first period, the Caps penalty kill unit held on to kill a 5 on 3 in the last minute and a half of the period. At the buzzard, the score was still 0-0, and it was the third playoff game in a row between these two teams in which there was no goals scored in the first period.At the 5:30 mark of the second period with Mike Green off in the sin bin for a hook, Erik Christensen broke the Caps long penalty kill streak and the Rangers got their first power play goal in the last thirty – three attempts to go ahead 1-0.The parade to the penalty box continued in the second period with John Carlson (cross check), Alex Ovechkin (hook), and Scott Hannan (hold) going off to the penalty box, effectively killing any momentum the Caps could build up in the period.However, at the 19:00 mark of the second period, Alex Ovechkin, assisted by Jason Arnott and Mike Green, raised our hope, putting the puck past Henrik Lundqvist, to tie the game up at 1-1.As Ovie was scoring the goal, “tough guy” Marc Stahl clobbered the side of the head of Mike Green, who just returned to the lineup from a concussion three games before. In defense of our Capitals, this was not the last time Stahl hit Green in the head in the game and was the type of play they retaliated to because the referees didn’t make the calls.At the 8:01 of the third period, Ranger center Vinny Prospal put the Rangers ahead, but after taking advantage of an “unusual” Ranger mistake on Marian Gaborak’s cross check penalty, Mike Knuble, assisted by Alex Ovechkin and Niklaus Backstrom, tied the score 2-2 at 14:48 mark.The game looked like another overtime contest, until Ranger forward Brandon Dubinsky carried the puck to the Capitals net at the 18:21 mark, cut into the crease, and shot the puck off Caps defenseman Karl Alzner’s shoulder and deflected by Ovie’s stick, into the net behind Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth to give the Rangers a dramatic win in Game 3.The Caps lost the game in the trenches. The Rangers outhit them 41- 29 for the night.While Caps goalie Neuvirth lost the duel to veteran adversary Henrik Lundqvist, he stopped 32 of 35 shots, and didn’t have a chance on the three goals that got past him. Failing to block shots and protect the young goaltender like the first two games, the Caps just allowed too many shots to go through on net.Before next game, the Caps need to regain focus, composure, remember how to check cleanly and block shots and not take so many penalties if they want game 3 to be in their win column. When they have won three games and are ahead 3-1 in a fourth game win with ten seconds to go in this series, Coach Boudreau can put DJ King on the ice across from Stahl. Maybe then we can see how tough Staal is.Playoff hockey is like a chess game. You have to change your moves every game, or the opposition catches up to you. The Rangers changed their moves last game and won. Let’s hope the Coach Boudreau changed the Capitals at practice today.The Caps/Rangers 4th Game is at 7:30 Wednesday at New York.
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