Yet another day, yet another Rangers win. This is starting to become a regular trend for this team as they continue to pick up points, and vault up the standings on a nightly basis. For those of you counting at home, the Rangers are now 11-3-1 in their last 15 games, and have provided themselves with a five point cushion ahead of fourth place. Both the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers have two games in hand, but at the same time, that extra padding definitely works in the Rangers favor.
Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist both had solid games once again, and are looking like the elite players everyone knows they can be. Two more goals tonight from Rick Nash, and he increases his goal total to seven goals in his last nine games. As for Lundqvist, he is 5-1-1 in his last seven games, and has proven to everyone why he remains the King of New York.
The Rangers jumped right on the Capitals from the opening faceoff, and were rewarded with the games first goal just a minute into the first period. Rick Nash was able to take advantage of a ill-advised turnover at the blue line, and walked in all alone on Philipp Grubauer. With a quick move to the backhand, Nash slid the puck around Grubauer, and flipped it over the glove to give the Rangers the early 1-0 lead. A lot of credit goes to Chris Kreider as well, as he hounded Dmitry Orlov all throughout the defensive end, and eventually forced him to make a quick pass up the boards.
After a healthy exchange of power plays, the Rangers finally received a golden opportunity to bust the doors right off of this game. Two consecutive penalties from Martin Erat and Karl Alzner resulted in the Rangers gaining a 5-on-3 opportunity, and they made the most of the chance they were given. Just barely 15 seconds after the second penalty, Rick Nash rifled a shot through the legs of Grubauer for his second goal of the game, and also gave the Rangers a huge 2-0 lead.
We've been preaching how well the Rangers have been with the man-advantage this season, and it's been a huge difference maker for them. Tonight was most definitely a special teams battle, and without that power play goal, who knows where the Rangers would have ended up in this game. A little over a minute and a half later, the Rangers converted on yet another opportunity, and Derek Stepan gave the Rangers a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
That goal also spelled the end of Philipp Grubauer's night, and Brayden Holtby came in to relieve the Capitals starting goaltender. Nearing the end of the period, Chris Kreider took a very undisciplined penalty as he wacked Holtby across the glove as he covered the puck, and received two minutes for slashing. Carl Hagelin also picked up an early penalty in the second period as he slashed Ovechkin on the arm, and resulted in a 5-on-3 for the Capitals.
On the carryover penalty time, the Capitals were able to cut into the Rangers lead as Alexander Ovechkin ripped a laser over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist. When you leave Ovechkin with that amount of space and time, he's going to make you pay the way he did tonight. Lundqvist was even in perfect position on the shot, but Ovechkin laid into that shot so hard that it just blew by Lundqvist before he even knew what happened.
Following that goal, it appeared as if the Capitals were going to get back on the attack, as they finished off the remaining 5-on-4 power play. Luckily enough, the Rangers got a fortunate bounce, which sprung both Dominic Moore and Ryan Callahan on a 2-on-1 rush. Dmitry Orlov wasn't able to contain Callahan for long, and he broke in and converted a massive rebound left out by Holtby. Huge credit to Moore for ripping that shot low, as he really didn't have an opportunity to slide the puck over to Callahan.
That would eventually close out the scoring, and the Rangers went into prevent defense for the third period to close out the game. With that win the Rangers take over sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division, and look to continue their streak against the New York Islanders this upcoming Tuesday.