Capitals 2, Rangers 1
What went wrong …
1 The other Alex — Life is unfair. Just ask Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers’ goaltender finished with 31 saves but took the loss when Alex Semin unleashed an unstoppable howitzer at 18:24 of overtime. Simply, Lundqvist deserved a better fate. Washington dominated the young Rangers in the first period, and Nicklas Backstrom had a semi-breakaway in the second. But the reason the game was scoreless until Matt Gilroy’s goal was because Lundqvist was the best player on the ice. Yes, he benefitted from his teammates’ 28 blocked shots and their solid effort in not allowing second chances — until Jason Arnott kept a clearing attempt in and found Washington’s other Alex.
2 Ovie solid overall — Alex Ovechkin had a strong start to the series, as his tying goal with 6:16 left in the third was the 21st of his playoff career. Bruce Boudreau matched John Tortorella’s line juggling by swapping Semin with the recently re-signed Mike Knuble on Ovechkin’s line, and Semin set up Ovechkin’s goal by firing a puck from less than five feet at Lundqvist.
3 Powerless — Ovechkin was credited with six hits, and used the 26:31 of ice time to get reacquainted with Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Perhaps the only negative was his roughing penalty that came 1:33 after his goal. Much like the regular season, though, the Rangers’ power play was putrid, as they put one shot on net. Tortorella’s creative process on even strength, though, paid off 41:56 into Game 1 when the North Bellmore-bred defenseman Gilroy ripped a shot over Michael Neuvirth’s glove and into the net for the series’ first goal, following a grinding shift that saw Brandon Prust beat a Capitals defenseman to a loose puck in the corner and get it to Wojtek Wolski who played it patiently. Wolski controlled the puck behind the net and found a streaking Gilroy for the one-timer while Brian Boyle screened the Caps’ goaltender. The goal was Gilroy’s first NHL playoff marker in his first NHL playoff game.