They came close, but not close enough to breaking the Capitals 12-game winning streak tonight at Madison Square Garden. In what could be called a goal-fest, a lot of positives can come out of this loss for the New York Rangers, including the fact that they were able to convert on the powerplay a total of four times. The crowd was into it, the players were into it, and the coaches were biting their nails. An overall entertaining night in New York.
Ryan Callahan opened up the scoring at 8:58 of the first period by deflecting newly acquired winger Olli Jokinen's wrister from the point past Theodore on the powerplay. That would be Callahan's fourteenth goal of the season and Jokinen's first point as a New York Ranger. Seven minutes after, Boyd Gordon slammed a rebound past Henrik Lundqvist to make it a 1-1 game, but it would not take long for the Blueshirts to respond. Exactly ten seconds following Gordon's tally, Marian Gaborik made a great pass to set-up Vinny Prospal who sent a shot to the back of the net, and gave the home team a 2-1 lead going into the intermission.
To open up the second period, it was Mike Knuble, who is heating up for the Capitals, who buried his 20th on the season and locked the game up at two. From that point on, both teams were being sent to the penalty box every few minutes, and as a result, there was four straight goals scored with the man advantage between the two clubs. Alex Ovechkin netted his 37th of the season to give Washington the advantage for the moment. However, Olli Jokinen scored his first in a Ranger sweater by depositing a loose puck in the slot into the net.
Ryan Callahan then made a superb play to feed Prospal in the crease for the tap-in, making it 4-3 in favor of New York. That would be Prospal's second of the game and 11th this year. The scoring continued, this time it was Brandon Dubinsky driving home a rebound in front. It was 5-3 Rangers until Ovechkin used his strength to fight through the Rangers defense and somehow manage to score one-handed on Lundqvist.
Tom Poti and Nicklas Backstrom scored back-to-back unanswered goals in the third period, and unfortunately five would be as far as the Blueshirts would be able to go. 6-5 was your final score and the high-flying Capitals leave MSG with their twelfth straight win, which to me, is almost unreal.
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Henrik Lundqvist, despite allowing six goals, played fairly well in this game. He stopped tw0 breakaways, made several remarkable saves, and made 26 total saves. The defense in front of him could not stop the pinpoint passing by the Caps, which basically tore them apart. You cannot blame Hank for this loss. It was a high scoring tilt and he put up the best possible effort. Also, Henrik managed to pick up an assist tonight.
Olli Jokinen gave a strong effort in his Madison Square Garden debut, registering a goal and an assist. Watching him for two games now, I have started to pick up on his strengths, but need a bit more time for the weaknesses. Olli can sure put on the jets and also fights hard when battling for loose pucks. He has a quick release on his shots and finds ways to get them through to the net. I am loving the snarl he plays with, not putting up with anything from the opposition. That is something many of the players on this team lack, but Jokinen, along with that wild mustache, has got it.
Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal were on their game tonight, which means hard forechecking and responsible back-checking. They are truly a large part of the heart and soul of the Rangers, and in a track meet like this game, those are the kind of players that can potentially make a big difference. You can add Chris Drury to that list, as he blocked about seven shots, two of which were Ovechkin rockets.
Special teams made and broke the Rangers on this night. The powerplay was four for six in the game, but the penalty-kill could not contain the best squad when up a man. The Capitals are unstoppable with the way they move the puck around. It had New York spinning in circles in their own zone. As for the powerplay, the Blueshirts have to be hoping that they will be able to be consistent with it like they were tonight.
The Rangers next game is on Saturday, when they will host Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils as Madison Square Garden. If you have not already read, check out the below post, detailing the transaction that brought Kovalchuk to New Jersey, and Johnny Oduya along with others to Atlanta.