Bradley, a third-line right wing who had all of five goals this season, scored twice in the first period Friday night to propel the Capitals to a 4-0 win over the Rangers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.NY Post: AVERY SCRATCHED AS RANGERS BLOW CHANCE TO CLINCH SERIES
The Capitals cut the Rangers’ lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2. Game 6 is Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist finally looked human and his teammates were flat — perhaps because Sean Avery was a healthy scratch after taking two senseless penalties late in Game 4 and four penalties in Game 3.
The decision to scratch Sean Avery from what would become last night's 4-0 Game 5 debacle of a defeat to the Capitals, which forces this opening-round best-of-seven back to the Garden tomorrow afternoon, was not explained by John Tortorella.NY Daily News: Henrik Lundqvist and Rangers blown out by Capitals in Game 5
It was, however, endorsed by Avery himself in a conversation with The Post minutes after the match in which Henrik Lundqvist proved to be made of flesh and blood, not high-tech substances.
"I totally stand behind what Torts did," said Avery, who took two mindless penalties in the final 10 minutes of the Rangers' 2-1 Game 4 victory. "The team comes first.
"I made a mistake. I took two bad penalties. I put the game in jeopardy. It wasn't something I did intentionally, but that's no excuse. I did it.
"I realize that Torts is making me a better player. The team always comes first. I'll do anything for these guys. No one feels worse than me at this point."
Avery said he does not know whether he'll be in the lineup when the Rangers go for the kill for the second time. The Blueshirts clearly missed him and his edge in a game that resembled the worst of the worst of the regular season.
"That's up to Torts," Avery said. "Obviously, I want to play, but it's his call to decide what's best for the team."
Was that John Tortorella's gutsy lineup move backfiring? Or was it just everything else blowing up in the Rangers' faces Friday night?The Record: Not a Grate night for the Rangers
Either way, rather than taking a restful day off Saturday in preparation for the second round, the Rangers are coping with the aftermath of a humbling rout. Tortorella took the leap of scratching Sean Avery as a repercussion for some reckless play in this series, but the 20 Blueshirts he sent out there were taken to the woodshed in a 4-0 loss to a Capitals team that is fighting for its life - and will continue to do so tomorrow afternoon at the Garden.
“They were a desperate team,” Rangers' Fredrik Sjostrom said. “We wanted this game, but it probably didn't look that way on the ice. We were flat.”
The Rangers, who won the first two games in Washington, still lead the series, 3-2, and host Game 6 on Sunday afternoon.
“Something has to give with our top guys,” said Tortorella, who declined to elaborate on his decision to bench his super pest or the third-period incident.
“This is a game where your best players have to be your best players. Not kids.”
Newsday: Capitals blank Rangers, cut deficit to 3-2
"We weren't as ready as we needed to be," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "We've got to score at least two goals to win against these guys . . . but we couldn't find a way to do that."
The Rangers mustered only one of their 20 shots on their four power plays, allowed a shorthanded goal and are 0-for-18 since scoring twice with a man advantage in Game 1. Perplexed coach John Tortorella emptied the bench in an attempt to score with the extra man.
"Your power play is a microcosm of your game because your top players are on that power play and that's a huge problem we have right now, both five-on-five and on the power play. And time's running out here,'' Tortorella said. "Something has to give with our top guys now. It won't happen without our best players being our best players."