The New York Rangers faced a playoff-ready Washington Capitals, both teams skating aggressively, battling for the puck and battling each other.
FIRST PERIOD: Mats Zuccarello was back in the lineup for the New York Rangers today against the Washington Capitals. The fans in Washington had clearly noticed judging by the loud ZUUUCC chants. Meanwhile, Rick Nash and Marc Staal sat out for the second game in a row, most likely resting for the quickly upcoming playoffs.
Quickly after puck drop, the contest became a physical one when Jason Chimera kneed J.T. Miller in the leg, sending the Ranger off the ice in pain. The poor guy seems to get the brunt of the physicality more often than not. But as we’ve seen before, he’s one stubborn player who refuses to be taken off the ice. Miller came back with a vengeance and checked Brooks Orpik hard into the boards, the Cap needing a moment to recollect himself.
New York Rangers
The Rangers were first on the board at 12:36 when Ryan McDonagh fired from the blue line and Kevin Hayes (17) found the rebound, whacking the puck in on his backhand: The incredible net presence by Hayes paying off again.
The Rangers then went on the power play at 14:04 as Mike Green sat out for holding. Derick Brassard (19) took a slapshot, the puck slicing through traffic to hit twine, and the Rangers were suddenly up 2-0. Brassard recorded a new season-high with his 19th goal and Hayes (28) tallied another point there.
This period ended 2-0, Rangers barely up on shots, 9-8.
SECOND PERIOD: Both teams continued to battle as if they were already in the playoffs. Early on, Martin St. Louis made a great defensive play to keep the puck in the Caps zone. Dominic Moore (10) then reached for it and took a chance on a sharp angle, lifting the puck on his backhand and it went past an unsuspecting Holtby, the Rangers now up 3-0.
At 5:36, the Caps were given the man-advantage as James Sheppard headed off to the box for tripping. It wasn’t long until the Caps showed why they have the number one power play in the league when Alex Ovechkin (53) beat Henrik Lundqvist on the far side, scoring the Caps’ first goal. Lundqvist seemed to want to make up for that one when he went far out into the next solar system to play the puck, Washington nearly getting another goal… Don’t scare us like that Hank.
Later, the Caps tried to pinch in at the boards but Tanner Glass created an odd man rush, took a shot on goal skating hard to the net and looked for his own rebound but Braden Holtby was able to hold on.
New York outshot Washington again, 10-9 this period, the score also in favor of the Blueshirts, 3-1.
More from Blue Line Station
- Blake Wheeler’s Broadway Calling: Why He Chose the Rangers
- Rangers’ Playoff Redemption Recipe: Grit and Fresh Hopes
- Rangers’ Roster Chatter: Who’s Making the Cut and Who’s in the Penalty Box?
- Jacque Plante Trade Tree Between the Rangers and Canadiens
- These Rangers must learn Peter Laviolette’s ropes before they can fly
THIRD PERIOD: The game started getting bloodier in the final twenty minutes as Joel Ward was caught elbowing Sheppard in the jaw area. The Rangers were not as successful on their second power play however, mostly because of Brooks Laich who blocked a few very hard shots for an applause worthy penalty kill.
Moments later, Gleason crosschecked Brassard after the whistle, and Sheppard had something to say about that. Gleason and Sheppard got into it, and both were given matching penalties for roughing.
Just several minutes later, Gleason got into some trouble again, this time with Tanner Glass. The two fighters turned the ice red in a long bought and both were given penalties for fighting, an additional two-minutes for Gleason for his cross check.
Back at even strength, Ovechkin inadvertently hit Dan Girardi with a high stick and Washington was without a fifth skater once again. In spite of the multiple penalties in the bulk of this period, it wasn’t until Holtby left the net that anyone would score again.
Jesper Fast (6) bumped the Rangers lead up to 4-1 with his empty netter, assisted by Dom Moore (17) and Glass (5). But the Caps weren’t going down without a fight, clearly when Stanislav Galiev (1) buried a wrist shot with seconds left on the clock.
The Rangers grabbed the two points nevertheless with a 4-2 win, their 53rd for a new franchise record (previously 52 wins set in the 1993-94 season).
STARS OF THE GAME:
1- Kevin Hayes, 1 goal, 1 assist
2- Martin St. Louis, 2 assists
3- Alex Ovechkin, 1 goal