- This weekend was really important for the New York Rangers. Two games against opponents that were fighting with the Rangers for playoff positions, and the Rangers won both of them. In regulation and in dominating fashion.
- Now, you can't exactly call last night's first period a dominating one. Right after Rick Nash scored his first of two goals just a 1:10 in the game, the Capitals started hemming the Rangers in their defensive zone for long, long stretches of play. That's when Henrik Lundqvist stood tall, made some remarkable saves, and helped the Rangers fight through the Capitals' possessions.
- Then the Rangers got a couple of power plays, Nash tallied again on a 5-on-3 -- the Rangers' second 5-on-3 goal in as many games -- and then Derek Stepan scored a goal right as another power play expired. Quick note here, did the Rangers score on a 5-on-3 once last year? It sure as heck feels like they didn't.
- Nash is back. No question about it now. His goal against the Senators was so pretty Sam didn't even know how to call it. His first goal on Sunday was fantastic too. He read the play, stole the puck and made a hell of a move to finish and give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. His second goal looked a little fortunate at first glance, but if you watch the replay Nash actually looks off the goaltender and takes the shot while he's looking at Stepan. It worked, and he now has seven goals in his last eight games.
- Biggest play of the game? The Ryan Callahan goal. Right after Alexander Ovechkin scored on an amazing 5-on-3 goal (I really don't even know how to describe it), the Rangers could have sat back and been on their heels for the ensuing 5-on-4 power play for the Capitals. Instead, Dom Moore drove down the ice, took a good, low shot he knew would create a rebound and Callahan slammed it home to restore the Rangers' three-goal lead. That play turned the momentum around and completely took the sails out of the Capitals.
- Aside from Lundqvist and Nash, Callahan and Stepan are moving back to where they normally are, too.
- Ryan McDonagh. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Can't say enough nice things about that trio. Staal is clearly back, Girardi has been back for awhile and McDonagh never left.
- Derick Brassard has such a good shot it amazes me he always looks to pass first. I know vision and passing are his top skills, but the puck makes a different kind of sound when he slams it off the boards. Take the shots.
- This is a big win, and moved the Rangers into second place in the Metropolitan. The Flyers are two points back but have two games in hand. Something to watch there. The Rangers are now five points clear of Washington, as well. That is why those regulation wins are so important.