WASHINGTON — As scripts go, Jeff Halpern probably could have written a better one.
But for the Washington Capitals forward, the ending was exactly what he would have drawn up.
Playing in his first game since March 23, Halpern was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking in the second period of Game 6 on Wednesday night when he cut New York Rangers forward John Mitchell on the nose.
With the Caps leading 2-0, Halpern went to the penalty box at 12:05 of the second period. But the Rangers, who scored the tying and winning goals in Game 5 with Washington’s Joel Ward serving a similar penalty, failed to beat goalie Braden Holtby.
“I was probably counting down the clock more than anyone in the building,” Halpern said. “It’s a long four minutes. Your first thought is negative, and there could have been two bang-bang goals. But (the Caps) did a great job bailing me out.”
Halpern took the place of Jay Beagle, who sat out after blocking a shot in Game 5.
That the Capitals were able to kill off Halpern’s penalties was crucial in a 2-1 victory.
“It sucked,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said of the Rangers’ inability to score. “That kills you.”