From the Capitals perspective you had to be wondering, would Varlamov start? Would Boudreau mix up the lines? Who would step up and start scoring? In a very loud Maddison Square Garden, where the already boisterous New York fans were also given light up thunder sticks, Varlamov took the ice for his second start, Brashear suited up for his first game of the playoffs and Nylander was a healthy scratch.
The first period began with Alexander Semin missing what seemed to be two great opportunities to put the Capitals on the board first. It felt like this might be another game where the Caps might not be able to put it all together. Alexander Semin however only got better. On a feed from Backstrom, Semin finally scored sending cheers of joy and relief across Capital Nation. If nothing else it put Washington in the drivers seat and rejuvenated the entire team. By the end of the period Semin had the Caps on top of the Rangers by 2 on a feed from Ovechkin. Varlamov, playing in consecutive games for the first time in the NHL did not disappoint. Varly had a more then a solid performance showing why Bourdreau has chosen to sit the under performing Theodore. His angles, aggressiveness, quickness and size give an entirely new look to a frustrated Rangers team.
In the second period, Brooks Laich sent the Capitals up 3-0 by crashing the net and putting in a second chance rebound. Varlamov also showed us that he has another gear, beyond the clinic he put on in the first. The Rangers were finally able to break through the Capitals defense on a few occasions and put pressure on the young net minder. Simeon kept his cool and kept the puck out of the net with a few specular saves. Overchkin also help out Varly by diving in front of a Ranger's break-a-way by Lauri Korpikoski, which started when Ovechkin himself miss-handled the puck. Ovie ended up in the back of the net and Varlamov gave Ovie a big pat on the back. Throughout the period both teams became extremely chippy with one another, which sent Avery to the sin bin on three occasions. Getting Avery riled up is something Washington fans have been waiting for since the start of the series.
The third period seemed almost academic for the first 17 minutes. Madison Square Garden became eerily quiet and the Rangers looked content with giving this game to the Caps. Then Avery decided to "send a message" to Varlamov by standing directly in front of him while the puck was at the other end of the ice. Erskine cleared Avery out, but not before Avery threw and landed a punch on the Capitals net minder. Avery was tossed, and soon after Poti put the icing on the cake scoring goal 4 for the Caps on a feed from Backstrom. Ranger fans reacted by throwing trash on to the ice, delaying the game for a couple minutes. Stay classy New York.
Varlamov's performance was brilliant and the Capitals did everything they needed to to win this game. The new lineups worked well and I wouldn't be surprised to see Backstrom and Semin paired together again in Game 4. If the Capitals can continue to play aggressive and jump on the Rangers early this series could easily come back to Washington tied 2-2.
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