Despite the New York Rangers controlling play for a majority of this game, a few bad bounces against them wound up being the turning point for the Washington Capitals. Cam Talbot didn't play out of his mind, but he played a decent game, and made the necessary saves to keep the Rangers in the game.
While the Rangers didn't necessarily have a bad start to the game, they did shoot themselves in the foot by giving Washington an early power play opportunity. Just six minutes into the game, Rick Nash took down Mike Green, and sent to the Capitals to their first power play of the game. As the power play was winding down to it's final seconds, Martin Erat set up Mike Green for a bomb from the point, and it beat Cam Talbot right over his glove hand. Again, not a terrible start by the Rangers, but they practically handed the Capitals that goal by taking the early penalty.
The Rangers really went to work following the goal, and wound up doubling up the Capitals in shots for the remainder of the first period. With that momentum carrying over to the second period, a hard fought shift by the fourth line wound up drawing Nicklas Backstrom into an interference penalty, and the Rangers went to their third power play of the game. It would only take them roughly 40 seconds to break through as Benoit Pouliot redirected a shot in front of Philipp Grubauer, and the game was tied at 1-1.
Brad Richards set up the goal perfectly as he saw Pouliot posted up in front of the net, and put the puck in perfect position for Pouliot to get a stick on it. Pouliot has been red hot lately as he continues to chip in offensively for the Rangers, and is providing them with some secondary scoring.
About halfway through the second period, it appeared as if the Capitals took a 2-1 lead as Eric Fehr snapped a shot off the post from the high slot, and the referee behind the net signaled it a goal. However, upon further review, the puck never did cross the goal line, and fell right under Talbot's pads after it clanked off of the post. Even though it was blatantly obvious that the puck never crossed the line, it was finally nice to see a call/review break in the Rangers favor.
That didn't last long though, as the Ryan McDonagh was caught up ice with a bouncing puck, and it sent Nicklas Backstrom in on a 2-on-1. Backstrom wasted little time when he flew into the zone, and ripped a hard, low shot under the blocker of Talbot, and the Capitals regained the lead. That type of bounce has been so typical for the Rangers this season, and it's nothing more than horrible puck luck. McDonagh makes the right move to make a play on the puck, but he simply misplayed it because of the bounce, and it ended up in the back of their own net. Nothing you can really do.
As deflating as that goal was though, the Rangers continued to battle in the third period, and it eventually lead to yet another game tying goal. Just 17 seconds into the third period, with J.T. Miller in the box, Ryan McDonagh redeemed himself by catching Carl Hagelin up ice, and sprung him on a shorthanded breakaway. With no one nearly fast enough to catch Hagelin, he made a nice little head fake before he slipped it between Grubauer's pads to knot the game up at 2-2.
It was a huge goal for the Rangers, and it came just 17 seconds into the period which gave them some early momentum in the third period. The Rangers continued to pressure the Capitals throughout the third period, and they came ever so close to gaining their first lead of the game. Dan Girardi was wide open in the high slot, and wound up ringing the post with a beautiful wrist shot that beat Grubauer to the blocker side. But, just as the luck has been breaking for the Rangers, Eric Fehr came right back down following the post, and smoked it by Cam Talbot to give the Capitals their third lead of the night.
It was just another unfortunate bounce that fell against the Rangers, and once again it ended up in the back of their net. The Rangers didn't play bad it all tonight, and they fell victim for a few crappy bounces yet again. However, despite all the negatives during this game, the Rangers have been completely dominating teams at even strength, and continued to do so tonight. If they can get the finishing touches on their chances, they'd be a much better team than they are right now.
Either way, chalk up another loss for the good guys, and the Rangers are back under .500 for the billionth time this season. They'll practice tomorrow afternoon in Washington before they head down to the Sunshine State to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning this upcoming Sunday night.