A well-rested Alexander Ovechkin lifts the Capitals to victory and the Kings steamrolled the Blues in St. Louis.
Scott Cullen looks at Monday night's playoff action.
PUT ME IN, COACH!
Even though he played just 13:16, Capitals LW Alexander Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal in the third period at Madison Square Garden, giving the Washington Capitals a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers and evening the series at one game apiece.
Ovechkin's ice time was his lowest in game since March 14, 2010, when he was ejected against the Chicago Blackhawks for boarding Brian Campbell. The last time he played so little and it wasn't the result of a major penalty and ejection, it was November 1, 2009 when he left a game against Columbus with a lower body injury. Only once in his career has Ovechkin played fewer than 14 minutes and it wasn't the result of penalty or injury: that was in the fifth game of his career, a 7-2 loss to Carolina on October 12, 2005 when he played 13:53.
But, despite the career-low in ice time (including those qualifiers), Ovechkin rose to the occasion, scoring a the game-winning goal and registering a game-high seven shots on goal in the game.
Checking centre Jay Beagle, who led the Capitals with five hits, also led all Washington forwards with 19:58 of ice time, a playoff high and a total he surpassed once in 41 regular season games.
D Michael Del Zotto played a strong game for the Rangers, assisting on both New York goals and hitting the post, solidly, twice in the third period. Del Zotto's time on ice of 25:08 was his playoff high.
In an effort to generate offence, the Rangers effectively sat their fourth line of Artem Anisimov, John Mitchell and Mike Rupp, as each one played under five minutes in the game.
Ovechkin scored the winning goal and the Capitals got a split on the road, so criticism isn't going to come hard on Washington head coach Dale Hunter, but the decision to play Ovechkin so little was only bailed out by Ovechkin producing when given a chance in the third period -- not good enough to play regularly, it seems, but good enough to bail the Capitals out when they surrendered the 2-0 lead that they had been sitting on for nearly half the game (29:44).
START WITH SPEED
On a night that the St. Louis Blues were missing their best defenceman, Alex Pietrangelo, the Los Angeles Kings stormed to a 4-0 first period lead and never looked back, coasting to a 5-2 win to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
With Pietrangelo out, Kevin Shattenkirk received more ice time, playing 28:41 (and registering a game-high six shots on goal and four blocked shots) and Kris Russell played 22:03 for the Blues.
Kings captain Dustin Brown continued his strong postseason, picking up three assists, giving him nine points in seven playoff games. Anze Kopitar scored a pair of goals for the Kings, including a highlight-reel shorthanded effort after a Dustin Brown steal in the offensive zone.
It was the second straight game in which Dustin Penner contributed two points to the Kings' efforts -- he had two multi-point games in 65 regular season games. Justin Williams and Mike Richards both had two-point nights as well.
After racing out to that 4-0 lead, on 16 first period shots, the Kings managed a total of five shots on goal in the next two periods.
Brian Elliott allowed five goals on 21 shots for the Blues before he was pulled in favour of rookie Jake Allen. Prior to Game Two, Elliott had allowed more than four goals once in 40 regular season and playoff starts. With Jaroslav Halak out for the rest of the series, the Blues are going to need Elliott at his best if St. Louis is going to get some road wins in Los Angeles.
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.