This game epitomized the entire series in that it was closer than expected. Not until
So, for the second season in a row, the Caps had the opportunity to win at home in a seventh game after mounting a two-game comeback. Last year's memory was not pleasant. With that in mind, the free-flowing Capitals focused on defense. They never pressed unnecessarily. With their skill, it was a smart strategy. Go slowly. Stay patient and make the quality chances count. With Lundqvist back in top form, it made for a tight game.
That was good news for the Rangers. Add congestion in the neutral zone -- the Rangers checked relentlessly in this one -- and you had an anything-is-possible atmosphere. The mix kept the Rangers around where a bounce, a break, or a breakthrough would send them onto the second round. They had hope heading into the third. That was the risk of the Caps' measured approach, but it helped them vanquish those memories of last season's disappointment.
Or tap into them and learn. But that's
Meanwhile, the Rangers -- putting so much effort and energy into denying on defense -- only threw three pucks on Varlamov. Needless to say, that wasn't enough. Once in the lead, the Caps continued to control the puck. Winning a tightly played game and winning by a single goal when facing elimination is a major step for this Capitals team. Sure, they stormed back to win three straight, but winning in this manner signals another step in their progression.
And with that,
Now we've seen that the Capitals can win 2-1 with only 24 shots on goal when it matters most. And that statement game evens the odds against the Penguins more than you can imagine. I can't wait; should be great.