New York won its second consecutive road game today despite being outshot 35-24 largely because Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head in goal again for the Rangers. No surprise there since the Rangers are counting on Lundqvist to steal games if not the series for them, and he'll have to because New York doesn't have the offense to match up with the run and gun Capitals. That was obvious today from New York's shot total and five botched power play tries.
What New York does have though is an effective group of role players who are making a major impact in this series.
Guys like Ryan Callahan, who scored the only goal of the game early in the first period but made just as much of a contribution to the win by pounding Alex Ovechkin at every opportunity and with his play away from the puck.
Or Blair Betts and Fredrik Sjostrom, who rarely get attention but are critical parts of the Rangers penalty killing unit that was the league's best this season and managed to neutralize Washington's high voltage power play three times. And shutdown types Brandon Dubinsky and Lauri Korpikoski, names you won't find on a marquee but telling were on the ice in the final minute when the Capitals pulled their goalie as they pressed for the equalizer.
Along with Lundqvist, the role players were the Rangers best on this day, spearheading a superb road effort that saw the Rangers keep the Caps from getting traffic in front of the net, minimize Ovechkin's impact and give up their bodies to the tune of 29 blocked shots.
It was a stunning effort in what is becoming a stunning series, with the Rangers now one step closer to a major upset and the Caps seemingly at a lost about how to proceed.
Washington shook things up by going with 20 year old Simeon Varlamov in goal, a move that didn't really backfire because the Caps played better in front of him than they did with Jose Theodore between the pipes in Game 1. But Varlamov was really tested severely other than the 2 on 1 break Callahan converted on the second shot of the game, and going into the hostile environs of Madison Square Garden could be risky.
Regardless of who plays goal for Washington, the Capitals won't get back into the series unless their star players start taking over games. Right now, the Rangers role players aren't letting them.