WASHINGTON — Conditioned by years of playoff failures Jason Witten Cowboys Jersey , Washington Capitals fans are always prepared for the worst.
After Thursday’s Game 1 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, some Capitals followers quickly progressed through the five stages of death and began planning for the offseason.
But the sun came up Friday, Beltway traffic was no worse than usual, and the Capitals can even the series Sunday night at Capital One Arena.
“I thought we were average,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said of Thursday’s loss. “I know we have another level.
“Playoff hockey is about … a lot of times it’s 50-50. Nothing’s happening, nothing’s happening and then something happens and it changes the course of maybe the game.”
The Capitals squandered leads of 2-0 and 3-2 before Artemi Panarin’s artistic overtime goal gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 series lead. It is the first time Columbus has led a playoff series in four tries as they seek their first series win.
Panarin, who led Columbus with 82 points in the regular season, added two assists and became the first player in franchise history with three points in a playoff game.
“We traded away a really good player in (Brandon Saad) to get (Panarin),” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella told NHL.com. “A different type of player, a guy that makes something out of nothing. Makes a great play on the tying goal and scores just a goal that a lot of people can’t score in this league. That’s sometimes the difference between winning and losing.”
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 27 shots for Columbus and Washington’s Philipp Grubauer made 23 saves after getting the starting nod over Braden Holtby.
“There was nothing in that game that you’d say, why you would make a change? Philipp’s been really good http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/jim-kelly-jersey ,” Trotz told reporters Saturday. “So we’ll go back with Grubi; I’ve got a lot of confidence in him, and we’ll be ready.”
Both teams could benefit from more discipline in Game 2. While referees generally try to let the players determine the outcome at even strength in the postseason, Columbus scored on two of its four power plays and Washington scored on two of its six.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two goals 29 seconds apart on a five-minute power play in the first period after Josh Anderson was ejected for a hit on Michael Kempny, who left the game.
Columbus tied the score 2-2 on a third-period power play after Alexander Wennberg took a blow to the head from Washington’s Tom Wilson.
Finally, the Blue Jackets forced overtime when Andre Burakovsky went off for tripping at 14:55 of the third period.
“That’s playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about is momentum and not giving the other team life at crucial moments in the game,” Wilson told The Washington Post. “There’s some situations out there we can obviously manage better.”
Kempny should be back for Game 2, but Wennberg is doubtful, likely forcing Columbus make some changes to their lineup. Twenty-one-year-old forward Sonny Milano, a healthy scratch for Game 1, will be in the Blue Jackets’ lineup. He had 14 goals and eight assists in the regular season.
“He still scares the hell out of me in a lot of situations,” Tortorella told The Washington Post. “But he’s a guy Leonard Williams Jersey Youth , another guy that can make something out of nothing and score a big goal for you.”
The Capitals could have their entire roster healthy Sunday if fourth-line center Jay Beagle returns after missing Game 1 with an upper-body injury. In addition to his faceoff prowess, Beagle plays significant time on the penalty kill. He practiced Saturday and said he hopes to play.
“It’s all about starting with the puck, and he gives us an advantage in that more than most guys in the league,” Trotz told The Washington Post.
The Capitals were 23-8-1 in the regular season after a loss.
By now, the Boston Celtics have come to expect adversity.
They were barely five minutes into the season when Gordon Hayward’s gruesome ankle injury offered the first collective gasp in what would be an 82-game schedule replete with more head-shaking moments.
The most recent setback, season-ending knee surgery for Kyrie Irving, left teams in the East almost hoping for a chance to face the wounded Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Boston enters as the No. 2 seed. But it is certainly vulnerable opposite a seventh-seeded Bucks team with which it split four games this season. Milwaukee is led by one of the league’s budding young talents in 23-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If there is a silver lining for the Celtics it’s that they went 14-8 without Irving for the last 22 games.
”It’s forcing our group to grow up quicker than maybe some of our guys were supposed to,” forward Al Horford said. ”I think that this is a great opportunity that we have in front of us. We’ve really worked hard all year to put ourselves in this position.”
Antetokounmpo is entering his third postseason and already has turned into a marquee player. He averaged 33.5 points this season against the Celtics, more than any player. His next step is to lead the Bucks to a victory in a playoff series.
”Right now, (the) playoffs is not about stats. It’s all about winning,” Antetokounmpo said. ”It’s going to be a long road. We’re going to try to go to the end.”
Trying to slow him must be a team effort Blake Martinez Jersey , Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
”We’ll have to guard him with everybody on our team,” he said. ”It’s not on one person to guard Giannis. We have to throw a lot of different bodies at him.”
Some things to watch in Bucks vs. Celtics:
Injuries aside, Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon expects Boston to be tough.
”It’s another level, I think we all know that,” Brogdon said. ”I think we gotta not be distracted by all the outside noise, by what people expect us to do or what another team is lacking. I think we have to go in and we have to play our game.”
FILLING IRVING’S SHOES
With Irving out, the Celtics will look to key their offense with third-year guard Terry Rozier. He’s played the best ball of his career this season, appearing in 80 games (16 starts) and averaging career highs in points (11.3), rebounds (4.7) and assists (2.9).
”I got to control the game, basically just filling what a point guard is supposed to do – filling Kyrie’s shoes as much as I can,” he said. ”Sometimes it might mean taking tough shots and making tough shots. … Do what I can to give this team and boost and put us in position to win.”
The Bucks are stocked with talent. But consistent defense has been a problem. At times Lawrence Taylor Jersey Youth , they’ve been blown out in the first quarter, forcing them to expend more effort to get back into the game. At worst, it turns into an outcome like the one that played out in the regular-season finale at Philadelphia, which turned into a lopsided lead for the streaking 76ers by halftime. Antetokounmpo said the team has lacked focus at times. They can’t make that mistake against the Celtics.
”I think understanding the tendencies, understanding your roles, understanding assignments, all of those things become paramount because each possession is important,” Bucks coach Joe Prunty said.
The Bucks basically have the same core back from the team that lost in the first round to Toronto last season. They add two key pieces to the mix in point guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Jabari Parker. Both players are proven scorers. Bledsoe played well down the stretch, when his 3-point shooting picked up. Parker looks back at full strength after missing the first three-plus months rehabbing the second knee injury of his career.
AP Sports Writer Genaro Armas in Milwaukee contributed to this report.
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