The New York Rangers improved to 8-2-2 after defeating the Washington Capitals by a score of 5-2. This game had contributions coming from up and down the roster; in total, 8 different Rangers made it to the scoresheet. The Rangers also got some great contributions from Henrik Lundqvist, as the Capitals shot-heavy game took its toll on New York as the game wore on. Braden Holtby had a night to forget, as he allowed 5 goals against the Rangers for the first time since Game 7 of the first round in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Five different players scored for the Rangers, including a defenseman and a fourth-liner.
The first period was the most evenly-matched period, as the Rangers and Capitals exchanged rushes and shots. The game started to get chippy when Alex Ovechkin went in for a hard hit on Marc Staal that Staal took exception to. Later in the first period, in fact about 20 seconds before the Rangers opened the scoring, Staal appeared to spear Ovechkin in the groin, although it does look like Staal is looking up ice as Ovechkin skates into his stick.
Oscar Lindberg would open the scoring, after crashing the net and netting a rebound off a Dan Girardi, then Kevin Hayes shot. Hayes did a good job of forechecking and getting the puck out in front, and then Lindberg is in the right place at the right time to get his (rookie-leading) 6th goal of the season.
Alex Ovechkin would get his revenge, however. After Girardi hits the post at the other end, the puck caroms out wide where it is picked up and taken on a 2-on-1 with Nate Schmidt and Oveckin against Staal. As Schmidt carried it wide, Staal dove to take away the passing lane, but Schmidt was able to get around him and backhand a pass to Ovechkin, which he hammered home to tie the game.
The first period scoring wasn't done, as minutes later, Kevin Hayes would get his third of the season to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Hayes came in on a 2-on-1 with Viktor Stalberg, but elected to shoot and fired a wrister past Holtby. The Rangers would take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Despite winning the second period 2-1 in goals, it was the worst period of the night for the Rangers. They were outshot by the Capitals 14-2 and the Caps controlled much of the play. The Rangers opened the scoring just 1:57 into the period, after killing off a penalty. Derick Brassard streaked down the right side with the puck, had a 4-on-2 at his disposal, and make a short pass to Kevin Klein who wired it past Holtby to make it 3-1. After that, however, it was back to all Caps, as they dominated in zone time and shots. The Rangers did play good defense while Washington had control in their zone, but struggled to set anything up once the puck was cleared.
Seven minutes into the period, the Rangers managed to take a 4-1 lead on a Derick Brassard (Marcus Johansson own) goal. Zuccarello had a nice takeaway along the half boards, managed to find Brassard in front, who aimed a pass for Rick Nash, but instead hit the stick of the diving Johansson and the puck deflected in. Somehow, inexplicably, the Rangers had a 3-goal lead.
Johansson would get his retribution, though. After parking himself all alone in front of the net, Karl Alzner makes a perfect pass and Johansson just deflects it over a rolling Henrik Lundqvist. In the video, you can hear Joe talk about how the Rangers coaches were telling the bench this lack of pressure was unacceptable.
The third period was a little less exciting on the goal front, although it did see a player get his first as a New York Ranger. Once again, the Capitals controlled much of the play for the first half of the period, and there were a lot of icings and tired players in blue on the ice. A brief respite came at 8:49 into the period as Washington took its first penalty, and while the Rangers didn't score on the power play (obviously), just after it expired, Jarret Stoll netted his first as a Ranger. After a great cross-ice pass by Keith Yandle, Stoll came in on the right side and fired a slapshot that eluded Braden Holtby, and the Rangers had a 5-2 lead with 9:00 minutes to play. The Rangers managed to not allow any goals against in the remaining minutes, and hung on for a 5-2 win.
All in all, this was not a perfect game from the Rangers, but (and we hear this a lot) teams have to find a way to win, and that's what they did. They were able to survive an onslaught of shots and pressure for roughly half the game, and still score 5 goals in the process. They got contributions from all over the roster, and no one got hurt. And while they didn't keep Ovechkin off the scoresheet, the penalty kill was a perfect 2-for-2. Let's take these two points and split.
What are everyone's thoughts? Can the Rangers keep this play up and keep winning games?