The Washington Capitals are one step closer to redemption after Alexander Semin scored his first goal of the post-season, leading the Caps to a 2-1 overtime victory at home over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
Washington was famously upset last year when, despite a strong start, they lost in the first round to the eighth-place Montreal Canadiens. Though their opponents have changed it is hard to avoid drawing comparisons as the Capitals try to rectify their paltry showing in last year’s playoffs.
The winner came 18:24 into overtime when Jason Arnott picked off Marc Staal‘s clearing attempt and Semin put the one-timer past Henrik Lundqvist.
Alex Ovechkin also scored for Washington and Michal Neuvirth made 24 saves for his first NHL post-season victory.
While the Capitals’ new brand of defence squandered the majority of the Rangers’ attempts on net, Lundqvist kept New York in the game, frustrating Washington with 31 saves.
New York’s Matt Gilroy drew first blood, scoring his first career playoff goal and giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead 1:56 into the third period.
Ovechkin scored his 21st post-season goal at 13:44, tying the game and breathing new life into a deflated hometown crowd. The 25-year-old captain was slammed with a roughing penalty just minutes after his goal, giving New York the man advantage.
The first two periods passed without a goal despite a number of power plays on each side.
New York was off to a good start, keeping the play to the fringes of the ice and limiting the Capitals formidable offence. The strong beginning was stalled slightly when the Rangers handed Washington a power play after too many men appeared on the ice at 5:31 into the first.
The Rangers managed to avoid catastrophe, bringing the Washington power play to a halt with some world class shot blocking and stopping Ovechkin three times.
Semin got the hearts of the crowd pumping late in the first period, firing a shot from just inside the point and beating Lundqvist but not the iron. Minutes later, Arnott suffered the same fate beating the Rangers but not the net.
Neuvirth stonewalled Marian Gaborik, who was left open in front of the Washington net midway through the second period, though a period later he would be soundly beaten by Gilroy, who had only three goals through the entire season.
New York bested Washington three of the four times they met in the regular season, however the Capitals took a major step towards changing the tone.
The series continues with game two on Friday night in Washington.