Alexander Ovechkin’s second-period goal would be the game winner and the clincher as the Washington Capitals beat the New York Rangers 3-1 on Saturday afternoon to win the series in five games.
Ovechkin’s goal came at 7:04 in the second with a nice backhand shot that beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist from a pass by Brooks Laich and Scott Hannan, which was enough for goalie Michal Neuvirth to get the win.
Neuvirth was solid as he made 26 saves in the game and came 31 seconds shy of his second shutout of the series.
Mike Green opened up the game with a power-play goal at 5:59 in the first to give the Capitals the early 1-0 lead. Green would then leave the game later in the period after trying to block a shot when he took a puck to the head and never returned to action.
Alexander Semin tallied at 16:23 into the third period to give the Capitals a 3-0 lead, which would ice the game.
Wojtek Wolski ruined Nevirth’s shutout with 30 seconds left in the game but it was too little, too late for the Rangers at that point as they were bounced out of the playoffs in five games and became the second team to be eliminated so far in the first round after Detroit swept Phoenix in four games on Wednesday.
Washington dominated the first period, putting constant pressure on goalie Lundqvist and outshooting the Rangers 13-6, not counting 13 more shots that were blocked.
The Rangers would never find any kind of momentum in the game as the Capitals continued their dominating ways into the second period. Ovechkin’s goal would be the dagger for the Rangers 2011 playoff campaign.
The Capitals are advancing to the second round for the first time since 2009, having won the first playoff series under Bruce Boudreau that didn’t have to go to seven games. Since taking the Capitals head coaching job in 2007, Boudreau led the Capitals to four seven-game series and only won once.
Washington has not won a series in fewer than seven games since 1998, when they beat the Buffalo Sabres in six games as they ended up going to the Stanley Cup final that same year but came up short against the Detroit Red Wings, in the club’s only final appearance.