Henrik Lundqvist bounced back from allowing four goals in Game 3 with another stellar performance last night. Lundqvist once again was the difference between a win and a loss, allowing the Rangers to secure a 3-1 series lead and put the Capitals on the brink of elimination.
To say Lundqvist was the difference hardly begins to the tell the story of his first star performance last night. The fourth year Ranger made several big time saves, particularly on the six power plays New York gave up. At the end of the night he’d stopped 38 of the 39 shots he’d faced, only missing an Alexander Ovechkin shot that deflected in off the post.
Chris Drury scored his 17th post season game winner in the second period, registering his first two shots on goal with the lead-up play that Varlamov had difficulty handling, and then the follow-up score. It was his first points of the playoffs. Drury is struggling with what is thought to be a right hand injury, and was questionable prior to the game.
Meanwhile Sean Avery followed up a four penalty night in Game 3 with two undisciplined penalties in the third period to give the Capitals a chance to tie the game. While the first penalty might have been an accident – something that’s always hard to determine with the Grate One – the second looked as if it could have been avoided. When asked after the game, John Tortorella said it’d be something he’d take care of in the lockerroom.
Despite being in a hole, the season is far from over for Washington. This is the same team that fell behind 3-1 to the Flyers in the first round last season, and ultimately lost in overtime during Game 7. Still, winning three straight games is a tough task, and fewer than 9% of teams who’ve found themselves in a similar situation have done it – the last time was in 2004.
Matt Gilroy happy to be in New York
The Rangers officially introduced their latest signing yesterday, and had the 2009 Hobey Baker Award winner in the stands during last night’s 2-1 win over the Capitals. Gilroy signed a two year $3.5 million dollar deal after helping Boston University win the NCAA National Championship earlier this month.
The Long Island reportedly was considering three teams – one is thought to be the Toronto Maple Leafs – though the Islanders were not one of them. When asked by Greg Logan of Newsday, Gilroy said the timing just didn’t work with the Islanders.
Gilroy’s father played St Johns basketball at MSG and some suggest that the lure of playing in the same stadium as his father may have tipped the scales. It certainly didn’t hurt that the Rangers offered him a decent sized paycheck. For his part, the 24 year old says he’s happy to be a Ranger.
To help the Rangers’ cause in signing Gilroy, former Terrier and Hobey Baker winner Chris Drury called the graduating defensemen to give him his perspective. Drury telling him that it was a special experience to play for the Rangers. Gilroy also has the advantage of having played for John Tortorella, a coach that he likes for his honesty.
His hope is to compete for a spot next season, though it’s generally not the case that players come straight out of college and play on the blueline. The last Hobey Baker winner to be signed out of college by the Rangers was Mike Mottau – he was drafted in the 8th round by New York in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Mottau played just 19 games for the Rangers before spending the next several years bouncing back and forth from the AHL to the NHL. Mottau has now cemented a spot with the New Jersey Devils.
Pack and Sharks tied
The Sharks evened up their first round playoff series with the Hartford Wolf Pack on the back of a five goal third period to square the series at 2-2. Matt Zaba allowed 6 goals, as a listless Pack gave back their advantage. Defensive pair Brian Fahey and Jared Nightingale were each -5 on the night.
Michael Del Zotto and the London Knights closed out their series with Windsor last night, losing Game 5 and the series 4-1. All five games went to overtime, with the final game winner coming 10:14 into the first OT period last night to secure the Spitfires a 4-3 win.
Del Zotto finished the series with a goal and four assists, and completed the playoffs with three goals and sixteen assists in fourteen post season games.
Evgeny Grachev and the Brampton Battalion have a chance tonight to close out their series with Belleville. Brampton leads the series 3-1 and can secure a spot in the OHL finals with a win.