for this game

Capitals down Rangers, advance to conference semifinals

Apr 24, 2011 - 2:24 AM
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Michal Neuvirth stopped 26-of-27 shots as the Washington Capitals advanced to the second round thanks to a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal from Verizon Center.

Mike Green, Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals, who topped New York for the second time in the last three seasons and await their opponent in the conference semifinals.

"I don't know. It's something we've never done before," said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau when asked if he had a plan in mind for using the extra off days before the next series. "It's one of those things where I'll wake up tomorrow, give my head a shake and wonder where we're supposed to be playing."

Washington put to rest the memory of last season's playoff collapse, where it won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history but wasted a 3-1 lead and lost a seven-game East quarterfinal to upstart Montreal.

Wojtek Wolski netted a late-game score for the Rangers, who have not won a postseason series since 2008.

Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves in the season-ending setback.

"It's frustrating and disappointing to come up short because we knew we could play with them," said Rangers forward Marian Gaborik.

Washington effectively wrapped up the game and the series with 3:37 left, as Marcus Johansson's saucer pass during a 2-on-1 found Semin on the right wing and his tip got past Lundqvist at the right post.

The Rangers put six attackers on the ice for the final three-plus minutes of regulation and Neuvirth robbed Derek Stepan at the right post on a sweeping glove save with 1:48 to play.

Wolski managed to snap the rebound of a Bryan McCabe shot home with 31.5 seconds remaining but the visitors had nothing else in the tank.

"We're still in a process, so we just keep on going and try to get better," said Ranger head coach John Tortorella, who has yet to lead the Blueshirts to a playoff series victory in two tries -- losing both to Washington. "I think there's areas of our team where we need to get better, so we continue to build."

A frenzied opening six minutes, with multiple close calls for both sides, ended up with the Capitals taking a 1-0 lead on the power play.

During a goalmouth scramble along the goal line to the right of Lundqvist, Green moved in from his point position and slid the puck past Lundqvist and into the net a second ahead of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi's attempt to smother the shot at 5:59.

"We just tried to calm them down, instead of trying to ramp them up. Something like nine road teams won in the last three days, then Tampa comes in to beat Pittsburgh, and we felt like we had to be a calm presence so they didn't get anxious," Boudreau added. "I think many of them played the best period of their careers in the first period."

Ovechkin made it 2-0 at 7:04 of the second period, when he soloed from the right wing into the slot, shifted to his backhand and flipped a shot inside the left post.

Neuvirth and the Caps successfully defended a pair of short-handed situations in the latter half of the period to maintain their two-goal edge.

Game Notes

This was the first Capitals playoff matchup since Boudreau became head coach in November 2007 that did not go the full seven games. Washington was just 1-3 in those four previous series...Ovechkin, who also picked up an assist on Green's tally, finished with three goals and three assists for a series-best six points...Caps forward Mike Knuble missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury...The Rangers haven't beaten the Capitals in the playoffs since taking a five-game decision in the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals...The last time the Caps won a playoff series in fewer than seven games occurred in the 1998 East finals, when they beat Buffalo in six.