Back when he was 7, Andre Burakovsky tagged along to watch his father play in a professional hockey game in Sweden. The opposing goalie was none other than Henrik Lundqvist. Burakovsky, now barely 20 and an NHL rookie with the Capitals, found himself facing Lundqvist, now the goalie for the Rangers, and the kid came through in a big way Wednesday night. Burakovsky scored his first two postseason goals and Braden Holtby saved a penalty shot, giving Washington a 2-1 victory over New York for a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Believe it or not, we’re already over a month into the MLB regular season.
The Baltimore Orioles have had quite an interesting first month of the season, both on and off the field. Considering what the team has been through, fans can’t be too upset with their current record of 12-13.
The fact is, the AL East is a tough division. And while all games matter, the division won’t be won in April.
We’ve learned a few things about the Orioles in the early going, some good and some not so good. Let’s analyze the biggest takeaways from the O’s first month of their season.
“They never officially ended Miami, but none of us have ties to Miami anymore. So it didn’t make sense, we would all have to fly there just to shoot. So I guess you can say Basketball Wives Miami is officially gone, but you’ll still see the ladies of Miami floating around.”
Hmmm…we wonder if that means Evelyn is taking a break from Mommy duties to toss a wine bottle or two around with the LA ladies?
In a pressure-packed postseason game featuring Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash, Andre Burakovsky was the star.
The Washington Capitals left winger scored both of his team’s goals in a critical 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series. The Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy this year, but it is Washington with a commanding 3-1 lead and all of the momentum in this matchup.
Burakovsky was the playmaker in the offensive zone, but Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby deserves plenty of credit as well. He stopped 28 of 29 shots for a sparkling .966 save percentage and outdueled Lundqvist in what was essentially a must-win game for the desperate Rangers.
Every showdown thus far in this series ended with a one-goal deficit, and Wednesday’s contest fit the nail-biter bill perfectly.
Neither team scored in the first period, which was a testament to the excellent play of Lundqvist and Holtby. Holtby in particular excelled under pressure because the Rangers controlled the pace of the opening 20 minutes and missed a number of opportunities.
Mike Vogel of WashingtonCaps.com suggested the Capitals were rather fortunate to escape the first period tied, and Katie Strang of ESPN echoed the frustrations from the Rangers’ perspective:
Despite Holtby’s first-period brilliance, the Rangers’ Derick Brassard broke the scoreless tie with less than 14 minutes remaining in the second period on a golden opportunity off of a two-on-one break. It was a much-needed goal for an offense that struggled to convert on most of its chances in this series.
ESPN Stats & Info put New York’s struggles into statistical context:
Washington missed a chance to answer with a power play in the middle of the second period. Vogel pointed out that the passing was to blame:
The Capitals didn’t miss their next opportunity. New York coughed up the puck in the defensive zone with less than four minutes remaining in the second period, and Burakovsky buried it in the back of the net to tie the game 1-1. Zac Boyer of The Washington Times noted that the crowd understood the magnitude of the goal:
Perhaps more importantly, New York looked timid after the goal and crowd’s reaction, per Andrew Gross of The Record:
The nerves were understandable considering this was close to a must-win game for the Rangers after they lost two of the first three in the series. Lundqvist suggested as much, per Larry Brooks of the New York Post: “You trust your preparation, you don’t change the way you approach the game. But in the back of your mind you know it’s going to be the most important game we’ve played all year.”
The Capitals didn’t waste much time taking advantage of any New York nerves, and Burakovsky scored a mere 24 seconds into the third period. Strang praised Burakovsky’s performance, and Gross pointed out that this was not business as usual for the Washington left winger in these playoffs:
New York nearly tied the game a few minutes later when Carl Hagelin broke free and earned a penalty shot. Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post described the action, and Strang pointed out that defender Mike Green was probably more relieved than anyone in the Washington crowd when Holtby stifled the penalty chance:
The Capitals parlayed the momentum boost from the penalty stop to the other end of the ice and had a number of opportunities to push the lead to 3-1. Naturally, Lundqvist had other ideas, and Gross noted that only one Washington player stood in the way of Lundqvist and a brilliant performance:
The dueling showings from the two goalies continued throughout the middle portion of the third period, which set the stage for a dramatic finish. Sean Hartnett of WFAN Sports Radio described New York’s frame of mind heading into the final minutes:
The game became even tenser when New York pulled Lundqvist for an extra attacker with less than 90 seconds remaining. Despite the one-man advantage in the final minute, New York never even materialized a legitimate scoring chance or shot on goal, and the Capitals seized a monumental 3-1 lead in the series.
Holtby was unstoppable in net the entire game, the defense did its job in those tense final minutes, and Burakovsky generated just enough offense to come away with the win.
Game 5 in this series is Friday back in New York, and it now truly is a must-win contest for the Rangers.
Home-ice advantage will certainly help, but the Capitals already went into New York and walked away with a victory in Game 1. Outside of a hiccup in the second game when the Rangers scored three times, Holtby has been a dominant force between the pipes, and there is no reason to expect anything different just because the series shifts back to the Big Apple.
Perhaps the scariest thing for the Rangers is the fact that Ovechkin has been fairly quiet in this series (two goals), and the Capitals are still ahead 3-1. If he breaks out, this series will be over quickly.
The Capitals are one vintage Ovechkin performance or one more impressive Holtby showing away from the Eastern Conference Final.
Reed spent 12 years in the NFL, 11 of them with the Baltimore Ravens, the team he won a Super Bowl title with in 2012. Reed played for both the Houston Texans and New York Jets in 2013, though he was out of the NFL in 2014.
He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, five-time first-team All-NFL selection by The Associated Press and finished his career with 64 interceptions (sixth all-time), 13 non-offensive touchdowns (fifth) and 1,590 interception yards (first). He was also the 2004 AP Defensive Player of the Year and led the league in interceptions three times (2004, 2008, 2009).
Few players had better instincts than Reed, and few defensive players in NFL history were more dangerous with the ball in their hands after a turnover. Alongside Ray Lewis, he led the Ravens to the playoffs seven times in his career.
He’s almost assuredly a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he most assuredly belongs in the conversation about which player was the greatest safety in NFL history.
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