In what was expected to be another aggressive, offensive affair, Game 2 turned into a tale of two goalies.
On one side, there’s the young, four-year veteran who is regarded as one of the best young goalies in the NHL. On the other side is a raw but talented 20-year old prospect that is in line to be the future goaltender of his team who is making his first career playoff start.
Rookie Simeon Varlamov replaced Jose Theodore, who allowed four goals in Wednesday’s one-goal loss. The bold move was announced to the team Saturday morning.
Varlamov allowed only one goal in his impressive debut but for the time being it is overshadowed by the Game 2 loss and the two-game hole the team has dug itself into.
The deciding goal came with 12:16 to play in the first period. Varlamov failed to stop the puck from flying over his left shoulder once Rangers right winger Ryan Callahan fired the shot. He finished the game with 23 saves.
“He was phenomenal tonight. He did everything he could. There was nothing he could have done on the goal. It was a backdoor one-timer right under the bar,” defenseman Brian Pothier said. “He was solid. I don’t think he made any mistakes tonight.”
The Capitals tried everything they could to get a shot past the Ranger’s Henrik Lundqvist but were incapable of taking him out of his game. Washington continuously attacked the net, outshooting New York 35-24 but was unable to get anything to go through.
“It was just a matter of us finding a way to score a goal. We had a ton of chances. They blocked a ton of shots. We need to figure out some kind of recipe to get some goals,” Pothier said.
The lack of points was not the result of a lack of effort on the Capitals’ part. They have outshot the Rangers 70-46 in the series so far. That statistic and the fact that they are down 0-2 should say more about the performance of Lundqvist than it does about Washington’s offense.
“We played a great game, I thought. We made a mistake and they capitalized on it. We couldn’t penetrate their defense they had. They did a great job of blocking shots and Lundqvist is obviously an exceptional goalie so we need to figure out a way to get pucks through,” Pothier said.
The Capitals started the game fast and attacked the net as they tend to do but towards the end, passing miscues continued to hinder scoring chances.
Another factor in the two losses was the team’s failure to alter their regular season style of play to accommodate their postseason matchups, Mike Green said.
“I think we’re just so used to playing a certain way and now with playoff hockey the game changes a bit and we have to adjust. If you’re going to win you have to adjust.”
Washington, who boasts the NHL’s third best road record, will have to continue their playoff quest in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Monday. In order to be successful, they must find a way to solve the predicament Lundqvist puts them in on a game-by-game basis.