Last night was the first triple overtime game of the 2012 playoffs.
I actually didn’t even turn the game on until the third OT was about to begin (I wasn’t home, but check out my blog Earning Your Place in the Team for coverage of why I wasn’t home!).
I tuned in, stunned at what I saw: many players with blood splattered jerseys, Mike Knuble with a nasty gash on his head, and players skating around at some points seemingly aimlessly from exhaustion. Even more shocking was the alertness of both Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby, who to their credit were still making show stopping saves over 100 minutes into their ice time.
Additionally, the ice time between the players on the Rangers and the Capitals was astonishing. At the start of the 3OT (which was only minutes away from becoming a fourth OT), most of the Caps had not yet logged 30 minutes of ice time. The Rangers rode Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Michael DelZotto, and Ryan Callahan hard to the end. They all played over 40 minutes each, with McDonag coming away from the game with 53:17. Conversely, for the Caps, Dennis Wideman was the only player to break 40 minutes, at 40:42. This is all excluding the two goalies who each played a 114 minute game.
This was playoff hockey though and it was one of the best over times I have watched in a long time. Holtby is truly making a name for himself, and there is no shame in his loss last night. His glove side was his savior.
Wasn’t enough though because Brad Richards was fantastic. What a set up for the overtime goal by Marian Gaborik.
Beautifully executed play.
If Holtby keeps playing as well as he has been, he may help the Capitals knock the Rangers out of this. He has been the complete difference maker, aside from Hunter regulating Alexander Ovechkin’s ice time, forcing him to be smarter during his shifts and bringing more productivity to his game. New York leads this series 2-1, but the Capitals have battled hard, bouncing the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
No one saw this coming. At least not many. Have we under estimated the Capitals? Or is this simply the case of Braden Holtby playing hockey worthy of a Conn Smyth Trophy?
The Capitals have an opportunity to even it up tomorrow night at the Verizon Center.