Rangers 2, Capitals 3 (SO)

The Rangers fell tonight to the Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout. For a box score click here.

Observations:

Not down on the Rangers' effort tonight despite the shootout loss and considering how things were going 10 minutes into the game. Fans have to put this game in their back pocket and move on to Tuesday's game against Philly.

Another strong showing by Michael Del Zotto who has raised his game to another level right now… he gets first recognized first from me tonight due to his work killing off the 5 on 3 in the second period. Easily the Rangers' best defenseman right now on both ends of the ice and rewarded with 26 minutes TOI.

The first 2/3rd's of the first period were as ugly of a showing as we've seen from the Rangers all season, but fantastic play by the Rangers fourth line later in the period, starting with Asham's snipe to make it 2-1 and Powe drawing a penalty on Chimera, leading to Stepan's eventual goal on the 5 on 3 is something that we haven't seen much of from the bottom 6 forwards this season and is critical if the Rangers want to mount a late playoff push.

Both Caps' goals were things the Rangers can and should be much better at… clearing the crease in front of Lundqvist. Backstrom's goal to make it 1-0 was just an unfortunate bounce off of Backstrom's shoulder that found its way into the net, but the goal that made it 2-0 Caps, with Ovechkin getting lost in traffic and finding a wide open space in front to tip in a shot from the point was simply inexcusable. Could say it cost the Rangers the second point tonight.

Not the best of efforts from McDonagh or Girardi tonight. Apparently, McDonagh was playing through a thigh contusion and wasn't 100%, Girardi allowed a Caps odd man rush and put the Rangers down two men.

Kreider had another good showing in his second game since being recalled. Rightfully earned his promotion to the top line with Richards and Nash to begin the third period. He's finally skating with the confidence and authority we should expect from the kid. Never looked defensively out of play either. As always with the younger guys, its a long process and the goals will come if he stays the course.

Not quite sure of what to make of Gaborik's demotion to the third line to start the third period. Being forced to play with Boyle and Pyatt can't do much for a guys waning confidence. Gaborik's second period breakaway electing to go with his backhand to beat Holtby rather than wristing the puck showed me his confidence may not be all the way back yet…

The Rangers as a team were better defensively over the final two frames plus OT. The Caps were only credited with 10 total shots over the final 45 minutes, Rangers were credited with 23 blocked shots.

Hank taking a shot from Ribeiro square off of the forehead likely gave everyone flashbacks to Richter's concussion issues and his career basically ending from it. Definitely a 'heart in your throat moment' especially how much it stunned him.

As stated above, the Rangers next game will be against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Follow me on twitter: @NYRblogneill
Email me: c1rcaiff27@comcast.net

Rangers 2, Capitals 1

Game Summary:

The Rangers beleaguered power play, still terribly pedestrian and sometimes down-right bad, was the difference tonight with a gorgeous third period goal by Derek Stepan that sealed a 2-1 win.

What wasn't gorgeous was how the Rangers started the game. Early in the first period, after an Eric Fehr shot that hit the post and then almost deflected back in by a Ranger defenseman, (missed the name, sorry) the puck found its way to a wide open John Carlson at the top of the right circle and wired a shot far side past Lundqvist just 1:19 in.

The Rangers did settle down after the early goal, controlled play for a vast majority of the first period and managed to pepper Braden Holtby with 20 shots in the period, who looked much like the goaltender who gave the Rangers fits in the playoffs last year.

The Rangers got on the board at 7:39 of the second period, following a Ryan McDonagh slap-pass from the point, redirected in by the white hot Carl Hagelin for his sixth of the year. 

Just after Stepan buried go-ahead power play goal in the third period, you may have heard a loud thud of 18,200 jaws hitting the floor at MSG. Set up by a Richards faceoff win, Del Zotto funneled the puck to a wide open Stepan at the far post, beating Holtby four and a half minutes into the final frame.

 

Observations:

Perhaps the Rangers should've had a morning skate, they came out very sluggish and it cost the Rangers an early goal…

The Rangers did an excellent job limiting the Caps scoring chances after the go ahead goal and not letting a very dangerous team free wheel the puck, which got them into trouble over the last two games against Boston and the Islanders.

We could be talking several weeks before Darrol Powe takes the ice again. No doubt he sustained a concussion tonight. That collision looked awfully similar to when Brendan Shanahan and Mike Knuble ran into each other back in 2007.

Speaking of 2007, tonight's game gave me Tom Renney flashbacks when he was coach… a ton of shots and less than 2 goals a game.

Welcome back, Chris Kreider. Gotta make the most of this new opportunity.

Last time I wrote a recap, I hurled some criticisms at Carl Hagelin who went 35+ games without scoring. Hags has 6 goals since. You better believe having Nash at his opposite wing has everything to do with his recent offensive outburst.

Brad Richards was going to draw my ire tonight, he had an "ok" game, but redeemed himself after drawing the penalty and winning the faceoff which led to Stepan's game winner.

Next game is at home against the Habs on Tuesday.

Follow me on twitter: @NYRblogneill
Email me: c1rcaiff27@comcast.net

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