NEW YORK NY - DECEMBER 12: The New York Rangers celebrate their seventh goal as Scott Hannan #23 of the Washington Capitals skates back to the bench on December 12 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Capitals 7-0. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
I think the term "bounce back win" would be an understatement for tonight's performance against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Obliteration is more like it, because that is what the Blueshirts did to their opponents this evening; they destroyed them and destroyed them in every way possible. Saturday's loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets was thrown right out the window after the 7-0 defeat of the Caps, and now, with a couple days off, the Rangers will have time to appreciate their best effort of the season until they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins later in the week.
The Rangers controlled the game from the opening faceoff, which was very surprising. For a while the two teams were scoreless and both goalies made the saves they were forced to make. But that was broken when Brandon Prust's hard work paid off on his blue collar goal from the circle. He fought off a check and worked the puck out from behind the net and into a prime shooting position. This guy continues to impress, and it all starts in his chest with his heart. This goal would only get the party started for the Blueshirts.
New York began their domination just 59 seconds into the second period as Artem Anisimov took the puck all the way from center ice to the mid-slot, where he ripped a shot off the crossbar and in to make it 2-0. Shortly after, Marian Gaborik (finally) cashed in on the powerplay by tipping a Marc Staal shot to the back of the net, widening the margin to 3-0. At this point, Capitals' coach Bruce Boudreau took a timeout and lashed out on his team. Apparently it didn't do very much because immediately after Brandon Dubinsky netted his 14th goal of the season. The best part about this tally? It all started with an Alex Ovechkin turnover in the neutral zone.
Realizing Boudreau's little pep-talk had no effect on the team, Captain Ovechkin tried to turn things around himself by taking the body. This included taking a run at Dan Girardi and tossing him with a huge hip-check. Dubinsky skated over to Alex and said something, and Ovi did not hesitate to drop the gloves. After exchanging some meaningful blows, Dubinsky had the eventual takedown, outmuscling the Russian beast. And to pour salt in the wound, Marc Staal scored shorthanded on a nifty 2-on-1 with Brian Boyle before the stanza came to an end.
The third period was all about two players: Ryan Callahan and Henrik Lundqvist. Callahan first finished a great play made by Dubinsky to make it 6-0 early in the third. Then, several minutes later, he again would strike when he sent a wrister off the post and in on a 2-on-1 for his tenth of the season, second of the game. Washington turned it on late in the period, but Lundqvist had answers for all twelve of the shots that were put on goal. He made a pair of amazing glove snags and also a few kick saves to preserve the shutout.
Washington, obviously frustrated at that point, began to get physical and several minor scraps occurred. The main one was between Sean Avery and Matt Hendricks, which Avery won by a landslide by decking Hendricks in the face and throwing him to the ice. This was after he took a stick to the crotch from Brian Fahey, who apparently felt the need to use a weapon instead of handling Sean like a man. Also, Ovechkin was nailed in the knee with an Alex Semin shot late in the third, which kept him on the bench for the remainder of the game. I was a little disappointed in the Garden crowd for cheering while he was down in pain, but whatever, I am not going to harp on it.
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Lundqvist made a total of 30 saves in his fifth shutout of the season (29th of his career) to redeem himself after allowing a weak goal to Rick Nash just a night ago. I was hoping that head coach John Tortorella would let Hank play this game so he did not have to sit on the Columbus loss, and thankfully that is just what he did. Let's face it, Lundqvist could have been average and the Rangers still would have run away with this win. But that was not the case; he stood strong in net and completely shutdown the Caps' offense.
But that came with a little help from the defense in front of him. First and foremost, Marc Staal was completely lights out in this tilt. He was on Ovechkin like white on rice every time Ovi even came near the puck. Not many teams in this league have a defenseman that can defend a player like Ovechkin as well as Staal can. This is why Marc is invaluable to the Rangers on the blue-line.
Youngsters Michael Sauer and Michael Del Zotto also stood out to me on defense. Sauer ‘s aggressive style of play has me in love. The kid backs down to absolutely nothing and protects his teammates like fellow soldiers in an army. As for Del Zotto, he played a smart game. He's been guilty of some stupid decisions as of late that have been costly, but not tonight. Both of them played very well.
Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan again ran the show on offense. The each picked up two points in the contest and Dubi even accomplished a ‘Gordie Howe hat trick' (goal, assist, and a fight). I have said it before and will say it again: those two are the Rangers' version of the Sedin twins of Vancouver. They bond like brothers and have chemistry that would lead you to believe that they have played together for all of their lives. The Blueshirts have something very special in that duo and they should appreciate it.
Marian Gaborik finally got on the board after struggling since his hat trick against the Islanders two weeks ago. Hopefully it will get his confidence up because the Rangers need him going. Speaking of confidence, Alex Frolov stepped up tonight. He did not score, but recorded an assist and had the puck quite often. The timing could not be any better if any of these rumors claiming that the Rangers are shopping him have any validity.
Let's sit back and celebrate this one while we can. It is not often the Rangers run over an opponent such as the Capitals, so it feels extremely good when it actually happens. Their next task will be the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center on Wednesday. Let's pray that they still have some magic in them for that one.