The New York Rangers entered tonight's game with an opportunity to keep their winning streak alive, and did just that with a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. For those of you counting at home, that is now seven straight wins for the New York Rangers, as they officially surpassed the Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan division with tonight's victory.
Rick Nash continued his dominant brand of hockey once again, and came away with a pair of goals to lift the Rangers to victory. The amount of bounces Nash is getting this season is just insane, but, when you are playing as dominant as he is, those bounces are going to fall in your favor. Martin St. Louis also had one heck of a game as well, and he finally got back into the scoring column with a pair of power play goals on the night.
Henrik Lundqvist may have allowed a bad goal to allow the Capitals back into the game, but if not for him earlier on the game, the Rangers aren't looking at a 4-2 third period lead. He stood on his head earlier in the game when the Caps had several power play opportunities, and also shutdown 19 shots in just the third period alone. He may not get as much credit as he deserves, but the Rangers don't win this game tonight without Lundqvist in between the pipes.
The Rangers got off to a quick start in this game, as Rick Nash had the puck deflect off of his ankle, and slip in behind Braden Holtby for the early 1-0 lead. This entire goal starts by an excellent play in the defensive end by Nash, and quickly dishing it off to Derick Brassard who was already breaking up ice. Upon entering the zone, Brassard held up to wait for the trailer, and fed a perfect pass over to Mats Zuccarello who let it fly. The puck wound up catching a slight piece of Nash's ankle as it went in on net, which deflected the puck back and into the net.
Throughout the rest of the first period, the Rangers controlled a majority of the action, while also limiting the Capitals chances in the defensive end. Very early on in the second period, the Alexander Ovechkin wound up taking a boarding call against Zuccarello, which sent the Rangers to their second power play of the evening. A little over a minute into the power play, the Rangers converted on a Martin St. Louis power play goal, and extended their lead to 2-0.
Dan Boyle deserves a ton of credit for creating this goal, as his fake shot at the point froze up everyone on the ice, which left a wide open passing lane to St. Louis at the side of the net. At that point, St. Louis had a wide open net to pick his corner, and capitalized from his sweet spot. After taking their 2-0 lead into the locker room, the Rangers carried that momentum over to the third period, and capitalized on an early third period opportunity.
Just prior to the goal, the Rangers were having some trouble getting the puck out of their own zone, but were finally able to chip the puck clear. With Brooks Orpik pinching in to keep the puck alive, Derick Brassard stepped up and took a hit to allow the puck to continue up the boards. From there, Nash was able to swoop in to collect the puck, and broke in 1-on-1 with John Carlson.
Before Carlson was able to make a read on the play, Nash let a quick wrist shot go and beat Holtby just over to pad for the 3-0 lead. Just as things were looking all but over for the Capitals, they quickly responded with two goals within a five minute span. The first goal came from Evgeny Kuznetsov as he was able to catch Lundqvist napping in his crease, and slipped the puck under the blocker arm to cut the lead to 3-1. Just over five minutes later, Alexander Ovechkin broke through with his first goal of the night, on the power play to make it 3-2.
Things were starting to take a downward spiral from that point on, but the Rangers caught a huge break at the 14:35 mark as the Capitals took two consecutive penalties. First it was Nicklas Backstrom who took a double minor for high sticking, and then Jason Chimera was whistled down on the ensuing face-off for a face-off violation. That gave the Rangers a huge opportunity to put the game away, and just as the first penalty was about to expire, they cashed in.
After numerous attempts from up top, the puck eventually worked its way down to Derek Stepan behind the goal line. Stepan was able to wait out the Caps defenders before dishing it off to Rick Nash for a scorching one-timer in the high slot. Nash's shot wound up catching all iron, but bounced out back in front where St. Louis was able to bat the puck in at the top of the crease.
It was a huge goal in terms of putting the game away, and paving the way for the Rangers to come away with their seventh straight win. The Rangers will now have some extra time recoup after tonight's win, as the NHL's holiday break officially goes into effect after tonight. After the break concludes, the Rangers will be back in action on December 27 against the New Jersey Devils.
Happy holidays everyone!