|Matt Bradley (second from left) is swarmed by his Washington mates after his second goal of the first period. (Molly Riley/ Reuters)|
Bradley's goals ignite Capitals
Thanks principally to Matt Bradley - yes, Matt Bradley, not Alex Ovechkin or another of Washington's stars - the Capitals get to keep playing this season.
Bradley scored his first two playoff goals, Ovechkin added a highlight-reel tally, rookie Simeon Varlamov posted his second shutout of the opening round, and the Capitals beat the New York Rangers, 4-0, in Game 5 last night in Washington to avoid elimination.
"We never give up. We fight. We love the situation," Ovechkin said. "It's hard, but we love it."
The seventh-seeded Rangers, who played without Sean Avery (a healthy scratch), lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading to Game 6 in New York tomorrow.
"Something has to give with our top guys. I'm not trying to insult them. We have some great guys in that room," said Rangers coach John Tortorella, who threw a plastic drinking bottle into the stands during a third-period confrontation with a fan. "This is a game where your best players have to be your best players, and it won't happen until our best players are our best players - not the kids."
Alexander Semin also scored for No. 2 Washington, and the Rangers replaced goalie Henrik Lundqvist after two periods with Steve Valiquette.
Knowing they need to win three consecutive games, Washington picked up momentum from an unlikely source. Bradley is a 30-year-old right wing who never recorded a goal in 21 previous career postseason games.
Indeed, Bradley ranked 17th on the Capitals in points during the regular season, with just five goals and only one over the final 42 games.
Yet Bradley put the puck in the net twice in a span of less than 7 1/2 minutes. The first was shorthanded and came on the game's first shot, before five minutes had elapsed. Several Capitals skated over to pile on Bradley, knocking him to the ice.
Then, 12:07 in, Bradley squeezed the puck past Lundqvist from a seemingly impossible angle beside the net.
"I'm not going to lie: I wasn't try to score like that," Bradley said. "I was just trying to get it on net."
While Bobby Ryan blossoms into a big-time playoff scorer for the Anaheim Ducks, the top-seeded San Jose Sharks are wilting.
Anaheim's remarkable rookie scored two goals, Jonas Hiller made 31 saves in his second playoff shutout, and the Ducks rocked their rivals yet again, winning 4-0 Thursday night in Anaheim, Calif., to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
Corey Perry had a late goal and an assist, and Ryan Getzlaf added two assists for the Ducks.