Sunday, March 28, 2021

A TWO-Point Afternoon: Washington Capitals -- Game 34: Capitals 5 - Rangers 4

The Washington Capitals hosted the New York Rangers in a noon start at Capital One Arena.  The Caps were trying to extend their most recent winning streak to three games, while the Rangers were looking to get back to winning ways after a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.  The Caps entered the game atop the East Division by virtue of a tiebreaker over the New York Islanders, while the Rangers started the game in sixth place, three points behind the Boston Bruins for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division.  The Caps closed the Washington portion of the season series with a 5-4 win that was far closer a game at the end than it should have been.

First Period

The teams were more or less even in shots and shot attempts over the first half of the period when it appeared the Rangers scored the first goal, a shot from below the goal line that struck T.J. Oshie in the face and ricocheted toward the goal line.  Dmitry Orlov darted in and swept the puck away before it could completely cross the goal line, and fideo review confirmed that it was no goal.

The Caps got the game’s first power play late in the period when Colin Blackwell was sent off on a roughing call at 17:15.  Washington had two shots on goal but did not convert, and the teams went to the first intermission in a scoreless tie.

-- Washington outshot the Rangers, 11-6, and out-attempted them, 18-14.

-- Carl Hagelin led the Caps with three shots on goal.  Yes, that is not a misprint.  John Carlson had five shot attempts.

-- Nicklas Backstrom won five of seven draws, the only Capital over 50 percent for the period.

-- Ten Capitals were credited with hits.  Nine of them had one; T.J. Oshie had three.

Second Period

Washington was awarded their second power play of the afternoon when Brendan Smith was called for hooking at 3:25. The Caps were shutout on shots and failed to convert for the second time in as many power play chances.

The Rangers had their first power play chance of the game at the 7:11 mark when Nic Dowd went to the penalty box on a holding call.  The Caps killed the power play without allowing the Rangers a shot on goal.

The Caps broke through in the 11th minute. Ryan Lindgren tried to shoot the puck to the net from the left point, but the shot was muffled by Tom Wilson.  The puck escaped to the neutral zone, where Jakub Vrana tacked it down and separated from the defense on a breakaway.  His shot was stopped by goalie Keith Kinkaid, but Tom Wilson followed up and backhanded the rebound past Kinkaid’s left pad to make it 1-0 at the 10:43 mark.

They doubled their lead less than two minutes later when an Alex Ovechkin shot from deep in the left wing corner hit a Ranger in the low slot and clicked off the left pad of Kinkaid and into the far side of the net at the 12:29 mark.

Wilson put the Caps up by three less than three minutes later when he batted a rebound of a Nicklas Backstrom shot out of mid-air on his backhand past the right shoulder of Kinkaid at the 15:07 mark.  Washington weather a couple of good scoring chances by the Rangers in the last five minutes of the period, including a breakaway, and got a late power play on a high-sticking call on Carl Hagelin, but finished the period with their 3-0 lead intact.

-- The Caps outshot new York, 8-5, in the period but were out-attempted, 14-12

-- Washington was credited with 26 hits through 40 minutes to 14 for the Rangers.  Fourteen different Caps had hits on their score sheet lines, Zdeno Chara leading the group with four.

-- Alex Ovechkin, Carl Hagelin, and John Carlson led the Caps with three shots on goal apiece; Carlson and Tom Wilson had five shot attempts.

Third Period

The Hagelin penalty that carried over into the third period was killed off, and the Caps kept their 3-0 lead.  Washington got their third power play chance of the game when Libor Hajek went off for interference at 1:50.  The Caps did not convert the power play, but they did extend their lead in the sixth minute.  Carl Hagelin held the puck behind the Ranger net looking for a passing lane.  Sliding to his left, he found Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle for a one timer that beat Kinkaid cleanly at the 5:10 mark.

New York ruined the shutout bid by goalie Ilya Samsonov when Colin Blackwell circled with the puck in deep to Samsonov’s right.  Looking as if he might go for a wrap-around attempt, he tried instead to bank the puck off Samsonov before going around the net.  The puck bounced around in the crease, and Blackwell cleaned it up to put the Rangers on the board at the 6:42 mark.

Blackwell got his second of the period on a fine play by defenseman Libor Hajek, who kept the puck in at the offensive blue line to allow the Rangers to keep the Caps hemmed in.  He slid the puck up to Kevin Rooney in the left wing circle, who then fed it to the low slot for a redirect by an uncovered Blackwell, and it was 4-2, 9:41 into the period.

What momentum the Caps might have generated was stalled when Oshie restored the Caps three-goal lead, circling from behind the net with Hajek on his tail, redirecting a Justin Schultz drive out of mid-aid and into the top of the net past Kinkaid to make it 5-2 11:46 into the period.

That Ranger momentum was not snuffed out though.  They cut the Caps’ lead back to two goals when Alexis Lafreniere scored at the 12:18 mark, following up on a rebound of a Kevin Rooney shot, to make it 5-3.

The Rangers got a chance to take another bite out of the Caps’ lead when Wilson was sent off for tripping at 15:57 of the period. It took the Rangers just 11 seconds to convert the chance when Chris Kreider redirected a Ryan Strome pass behind Samsonov at 16:08.

The Rangers pulled Kinkaid late, but it was to no avail.  The Caps skated off with a 5-4 win.

Other stuff…

-- Alex Ovechkin’s second period goal was his 456th career even strength goal, tying Brett Hull for sixth-most all time. 

-- Dmitry Orlov had two assists for his first multi-point game of the season and his first since he had a pair of assists against Winnipeg on February 25, 2020.

-- Tom Wilson’s two-goal game was his eighth career multi-goal game, tying him with six other players, among them John Druce, Keith Jones, and Mike Knuble.

-- Washington outshot the Rangers, 22-20, but the Rangers had 48 shot attempts to the Caps’ 39.

-- Four Caps finished with three shots on goal – Alex Ovechkin, Carl Hagelin, John Carlson, and T.J. Oshie.  Carlson led the club with six shot attempts.

-- The Caps out-hit the Rangers, 36-21.  John Carlson, Zdeno Chara, and Garnet Hathaway had four apiece to lead the team.

-- Nicklas Backstrom and Nic Dowd each had double-digit faceoff wins, Backstrom going 14-for-24 (58.3 percent) and Dowd going 10-for-13 (76.9 percent).

-- John Carlson led the Caps with 22:52 in ice time.

-- Odd thing about Alex Ovechkin’s ice time.  He skated 5:37 on power plays but only 11:30 at even strength, less than six other forwards.

-- The five goals scored by the Caps tied a season high allowed by the Rangers, who have allowed five goals five times.

In the end…

For 45 minutes, this was as pretty a game as the Caps have played in a while.  The last 15 minutes?  It was like someone vomited on a Twinkie and passed it off as art.  But a win is a win is a win.  The trick now will be to keep the Rangers from carrying any momentum from this game into the rematch in New York on Tuesday night.


No comments: