Rangers Vs. Capitals: Washington Wins Game 5, 3-1, Advances To Second Round

There will be no first-round collapse this year. The Capitals dominated the Rangers in Game 5, winning 3-1 to advance to the second round of the 2011 NHL Playoffs.

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14 Total Updates since April 22, 2011
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NHL Playoffs 2011: Capitals Exorcise Demons With Strong Effort In First Period

The Caps avoided yet another meltdown in Saturday's series-clinching 3-1 win over the New York Rangers by playing an aggressive first period that didn't allow the Rangers to settle in.

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2011 NHL Playoffs, Rangers Vs. Capitals Final Score: Washington Wins 2-0, Advances To Second Round

There will be no first-round series collapse this season for the Washington Capitals. The Capitals erased some of the demons from their previous playoff failures, defeating the New York Rangers, 3-1, to win their 2011 NHL Playoffs first-round series in five games. Mike Green scored in the first period off a rebound, Alex Ovechkin added a beautiful backhand goal in the second period and Alexander Semin put home a pass from Marcus Johansson on a breakaway in the final minutes to provide the winning margin. Wojtek Wolski scored in the final minute for the Rangers' goal.

Ovechkin in particular was fantastic the entire game, getting a goal and an assist to lead the charge. Brooks Laich, promoted to the top line with the injury to Mike Knuble, added two assists. Michal Neuvirth was fantastic once again, saving 26 of 27 shots. Henrik Lundqvist was also great for the Rangers, holding the Capitals to three goals on 27 shots. 

The Capitals will now move on to face either the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens or Buffalo Sabres. It will be the No. 7 seeded Sabres if they are able to win their series against the Philadelphia Flyers, which is currently tied at 2. The No. 6 seeded Canadiens are tied at 2 against the Boston Bruins, with Game 5 scheduled for Saturday night. The No. 5 seeded Tampa Bay Lightning cut Pittsburgh's lead to 3-2 earlier Saturday.

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2011 NHL Playoffs, Rangers Vs. Capitals Score: Alex Ovechkin Gives Capitals 2-0 Lead

It would take a major collapse for the Capitals to not move on to the second round of the 2011 NHL Playoffs. The Capitals added a second goal and now have a 2-0 lead over the New York Rangers after two periods in Game 5.

The Capitals finally took the 2-0 lead thanks to their superstar. Alex Ovechkin took an outlet pass, cut in front of Marc Staal and deposited a backhand by Henrik Lundqvist just over seven minutes into the second period. Scott Hannan and Brooks Laich got credited with the assists. 

The Capitals then let up a bit, allowing the Rangers to get some momentum. The Rangers went on two power plays during the second period, and got several nice shots off on both of them. However, goalie Michal Neuvirth was up to the task, preserving the Capitals' 2-0 lead. 

Capitals defensemen Mike Green, who took a slap shot to the head in the first period, returned to the bench in the second period, but has yet to return to the game.

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2011 NHL Playoffs, Rangers Vs. Capitals Score: Washington Leads, 1-0 After Dominating First Period

There appears to be no Game 5 letdown for the Capitals, at least not early. The Capitals have jumped all over the Rangers in this 2011 NHL Playoffs game, controlling the play early. Mike Green scored the team's goal, and the Capitals lead 1-0, though it could very well have been more lopsided.

The Capitals controlled play early after the Rangers got a chance on Michal Neuvirth, and eventually put one in the back of the net on a typical mad scramble. Brian McCabe of the Rangers was called for a tripping penalty, and the Capitals quickly took advantage. Alex Ovechkin got a long rebound, faked a shot and fed Green, who skated in for the goal. Green's stuff attempt went off Dan Girardi's skate into the back of the net. Green got credit for the goal, and Ovechkin and Brooks Laich got the assists.

A major fight broke out after the goal, and three Rangers and two Capitals were sent to the penalty box. Alexander Semin and Laich both picked up penalties for roughing, as did Brandon Dubinsky and Chris Drury. Vaclav Prospal picked up the third penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Capitals could not take advantage on the ensuing power play.

The Capitals continued to control play throughout the first period, but Henrik Lundqvist has been up to the task, keeping the Rangers in the game with timely saves.

The Capitals had to deal with a scary moment when Green got hit in the face again by a slap shot by Doug Gilroy. Green, who missed the last part of the regular season after getting a slap shot to the face on Super Bowl Sunday, was down on the ice for a few minutes. He eventually walked off on his own power, but he was taken to a quiet room for 15 minutes as part of the NHL's concussion protocol.

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Rangers Vs. Capitals, 2011 NHL Playoffs Game 5: Brooks Laich On Top Line

In a bit of a surprise, Brooks Laich, and not Jason Chimera, will be on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to start Game 5 of the Capitals' first-round 2011 NHL Playoffs against the Rangers. Despite Chimera's success in Game 4 and his previous experience on the top line in the regular season, it'll be Laich starting the game.

Chimera will instead sink down to the third line with fellow Game 4 hero Marcus Johansson and Eric Fehr. Marco Sturm, Jason Arnott and Alexander Semin will be the second line, with Matt Hendricks, Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon on the fourth line. The defensive pairings will remain the same. John Carlson will stay with Karl Alzner, Mike Green will stick with Jeff Schultz and Scott Hannan will work with John Erskine.

Keep in mind that, as usual, coach Bruce Boudreau often mixes the line combinations depending on the flow of the game.

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NHL Playoffs 2011, Rangers Vs. Capitals: Bruce Boudreau Knows Lucky Bounces Can Change Series

In a brief, one-minute press conference, Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau gave his thoughts on how Saturday's Game 5 with the New York Rangers might play out.

"I think in the end, it's going to be who wins more one-on-one battles and like a lot of games, who's going to win the special teams," Boudreau said. "The third thing if you were going to ask me after watching the first four games is who gets the break, who gets the lucky bounce. That's the way this series is going and so I assume it's going to continue going like that."

A lot of history will come into play Saturday. The Caps have had nine 3-1 series leads in seven-game series in franchise history, but have blown that lead four times. Also, if the Caps and Rangers play yet another scoreless first period, their fifth of the series, it will set a NHL playoff record for most scoreless first periods in a single series. The Caps are 2-7 on home ice in franchise history when they have a chance to close out an opponent.

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Rangers Vs. Capitals, 2011 NHL Playoffs Game 5: Washington Looks To Close Out Series

One year ago, the Washington Capitals were in the same position that they're in right now against the New York Rangers in the 2011 NHL Playoffs. They had rallied to beat the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead, and came home to Verizon Center looking to close things out. They instead gave up an early goal and lost Game 5, 2-1. Obviously, you know the rest.

On Saturday, the Capitals will look to prevent history from repeating itself and close out the pesky New York Rangers. Things looked bleak in Game 4, when the Rangers raced ahead to a 3-0 lead, but the Capitals rallied with three third-period goals before Jason Chimera scored the game-winner in double overtime. And just like that, the Capitals had a 3-1 series lead.

The Capitals will once again need to get it done without Mike Knuble, who was ruled out with an injury on Friday. That means we'll likely see Chimera on the top line once again, with Eric Fehr taking his place on the third line. 

We'll have live coverage of this game as it happens.

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Rangers Vs. Capitals, 2011 NHL Playoffs Game 5: Mike Knuble Will Not Play Due To Injury

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Head coach Bruce Boudreau has confirmed that Mike Knuble will not play in Saturday's Game 5 between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.

Knuble did not play in Wednesday's 4-3 double overtime victory with what is believed to be an injured right hand. He listed himself as "day-to-day" Thursday and was not available for comment after practice. Before his teammates took the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Knuble participated in full-speed skating drills in full gear. Meanwhile, defenseman Dennis Wideman also skated, but was in warm-ups and did not take part in any strenuous activity.

The Caps will attempt to clinch their first-round series Saturday without Knuble. Brooks Laich skated with Knuble's usual linemates, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, Friday and could be on the top line Saturday.

"Brooks is so responsible," Boudreau said. "You can play him anywhere and he's going to make that line better. Right now, with Mike Knuble out, it makes a better fit. But who knows, it may change,"

Jason Chimera, who started on the first line Wednesday, has returned to his normal place on the third line with Marcus Johansson and Eric Fehr.

The Caps have held a 3-1 series lead many times before, including last season's demise against the Montreal Canadiens, but Boudreau believes that the Caps must move forward and forget about what's happened in the past.

"We have to have a short memory. The only ones who don't have short memories are media because they got to write about it during the days off. I guarantee the New York Rangers have forgotten about it like we forgot about Game 3 and everything is brand new. Everything is starting brand new, one-on-one, team versus team."

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