If you are a Washington Capitals fan, the story is frustratingly familiar.
Despite one point holding a 2-0 series lead, and chances to close it out in Games 6 and 7, the Capitals floundered and lost the series, 5-0, in Game 7 to the New York Rangers.
In 2007-08, the team lost Game 7 in Round One to the Philadelphia Flyers. In 2008-09, the Caps lost Game 7 in Round Two to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2009-10, the 8th seeded Montreal Canadiens knocked them out in the first round. They were swept in Round Two by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010-11. Washington lost to the Rangers in Game 7 of the second round last season. This year makes 5 excruciating exits in a row.
The Capitals just couldn’t capitalize at a time when some of the top Rangers were performing poorly. Brad Richards had an awful showing with only one point in the 7 games. Rick Nash? Just 2 points. Derek Stepan, just 2 points. Captain Callahan? 3 points. Yet, defending Vezina-champ Henrik Lundqvist was on his game to propel the Rangers, posting up shutouts in Games 6 and 7.
What you need to know? Aaron Asham scored the game winning goal with 7 minutes remaining in the first period. It turned out to be the only goal the Rangers would need.
The Caps controlled the pace early in the game, and pushed the pace, but could not solve Lundqvist. Alex Ovechkin played with grit and tenacity, laying out 3 huge hits in the period, one of which sent Ryan McDonough off for facial repairs. It was not enough, as Ovechkin finished the game with just one shot on goal, and ended the series with no points over the final 5 games.
After the Asham goal, the Caps appeared deflated, and could never regain any of their earlier momentum. Between the errant passes and lack of traffic in front of Lundqvist, Taylor Pyatt and Michael Del Zotto scored goals for the Rangers, raising the score to 3-0.
Callahan and Mats Zuccarello added insult to injury, making the game an unreachable 5-0 with goals in the third period, as the listless and lifeless Caps floated around the ice waiting for the game to end. The Rangers are expected to begin their next round against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Washington is relegated to yet another off-season to search for answers as to what went wrong. This is the 4th game 7 that the Caps have lost on home ice in the last 5 seasons. Beyond Ovechkin’s lack of production (2 points), the team also saw struggles from Nicklas Backstrom (3 points), Mike Ribeiro (2 points), and Marcus Johansson (2 points). Another year, another weak playoff performance from the teams top names.