Three games in four nights? No problem for the Rangers. 3-0 against teams directly behind them all within 4 points.
With all the hockey the Rangers have played recently, I sensed a little fatigue that caused the Rangers to not bring their 'A' game back to New York tonight after last night's red-eye from Ottawa. However, thanks to a lethal power play, a resurgent Rick Nash and a stonewall Henrik Lundqvist, it was enough to keep the Capitals at bay who have completely melted down over the last 30 days. Just 3 wins in their last 14 games.
Nash abused Caps goalie Philipp Grubauer in the first period, stripping Orlov of the puck at the Caps' blueline and beating the rookie on a mini-breakaway just 1:10 into the game.
Nash's second came on a two man advantage, taking a pass from Brad Richards and firing a shot through a gaping hole between Grubauer's legs. It took him long enough, but Nash's 14th of the season nets him the team lead.
Derek Stepan sent Grubauer to the showers early, sending a wrister into the net for a 3-0 lead just 1:43 after Nash put them up 2. Credit also goes to Kreider for setting up a perfect screen in front.
Not much the Rangers could've done on the Caps' lone goal that came off Ovechkin's stick while on a two man advantage of their own. Henrik made the saves he needed to make in an otherwise uneventful performance.
Lundqvist appeared to pull a muscle late in the third after a sequence in front of him, which led AV to call a rare timeout to give his goalie some time. Didn't appear serious, but something to keep an eye on.
Any effort or will the Caps may have had was thrown out of the window when Callahan out worked Orlov to a rebound soon after Ovechkin cut the lead to 3 to start the second. Anyone else hold their breath when Cally went into the crossbar after scoring?
The Caps unloading prospect Filip Forsberg to acquire Martin Erat in a trade at the deadline last year, is paying dividends for everyone except the Capitals. An interference penalty negated a Mike Green goal midway through the second and he eventually took his frustration out on Brian Boyle's man jewels later on in the period.
Terrible night to be a groin of a Rangers player, eh?
All in all a fairly uneventful game. The Rangers were credited with 15 giveaways but none that threatened to tilt the ice back in Washington's favor. To be honest, the Caps barely showed up for tonight. Not to take anything away from the Rangers.
There aren't a ton of detriments on the roster as it stands right now, as most of the team is trending upwards. They've shed the "inconsistent" label we tagged on them for the better part of December. The Rangers defense to offense transition game has been giving opponents a lot of issues given the amount of speed the Rangers have on the wings across their top 3 lines. This, paired with a top 7 power play and lights out goaltending by Lundqvist and Talbot have all come together at the right time and have led to victories on most nights against some quality clubs. Whatever happened in the visitors locker room after the 5-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Jan. 3 resonated throughout the roster to great success. With 8 games left before the Olympic break and 5 against division foes, lets hope their compete level doesn't suddenly regress, removing all the positives the Rangers have accomplished as of late playing in this new system.
The Rangers have 3 dates with the Islanders over the next two weeks starting with a tilt at MSG on Tuesday.
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