The Washington Capitals staved off elimination, beating the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game Six Wednesday, forcing Game Seven, back at Madison Square Garden on Friday.
Not surprisingly, the Capitals were backstopped by a strong performance from G Braden Holtby, who stopped 30 of 31 Rangers shots, with the only goal coming late in the third period when Marian Gaborik's shot deflected in off defenceman John Carlson while Holtby was blocked from moving by Rangers winger Carl Hagelin. Holtby now owns a .935 save percentage in the playoffs, so he's been vital to his team's success.
Alexander Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game for the Capitals, which is a double-edged sword for him, because the early lead contributed to his limited ice time (15:14, sixth among Washington forwards), but Ovechkin was a factor throughout the game and he led the Capitals with five hits.
The Capitals had contributions throughout the lineup -- even in a 2-1 game. Nicklas Backstrom assisted on both goals and led Capitals forwards in ice time at 18:54. Jason Chimera scored the second goal and led Washington with five shots on goal. Matt Hendricks played 18:14 and delivered four hits while spending the bulk of his night matched up against the Rangers' top line of Brad Richards, Gaborik and Hagelin.
Once again, the Capitals blocked more shots than the Rangers 24-6 in Game Six, after a 29-14 "advantage" in Game Five and, given the territorial edge that the Rangers hold, Washington needs to continue paying the price if they are going to pull out a Game Seven victory on the road.
It's worth noting that Rangers D Ryan McDonagh played 19:38 in Game Six. He played less than that only twice all season and hadn't played less than 21:54 in this year's playoffs.
Back to Manhattan for Game Seven of what has been a close series, with the Rangers outscoring the Capitals 12-11 through the first six games, with five one-goal games after Washington played seven one-goal games in Round One against Boston.
Games this close rely on some good fortune (or downright luck) to win and while that's hardly a strategy for long-term success, an underdog that can take higher seeds to the limit by hurling their bodies in front of every possible shot is a fair game plan when trying to pull off the upset.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.