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Rangers Vs. Capitals: All Alone At The Top

Notes from the Rangers win over the Capitals.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

- You really would have forgiven the Rangers if they didn't find a way to pull out these two points. Coming off an emotional 2-1 win over the Islanders the night before and going up against a rested Capitals team, this game had loss written all over it. But the Rangers did what they've done all year, they found a way to win. 13-2-3 since Henrik Lundqvist went down with an injury and currently sitting in sole possession of first place ... in the NHL.

- Cam Talbot had another outstanding game. At this point he's starting to make Lundqvist-like saves, and that effort last night could have easily been confused for him actually being Henrik Lundqvist if you put Talbot in his gear. That glove save on the 5-on-3? I don't have words. It's as much instinct as it is luck. Those back-to-back saves on Alex Ovechkin late in the third? Just wow. He's been herculean.

-  You know what else has turned into a nice little weapon for the Rangers? The third line. Kevin Hayes had two assists (he's 12-19 on the year, closing in on the 20-20 club), J.T. Miler scored the game winning goal and Carl Hagelin had the game's first goal. Miller also made an outstanding play on the Hagelin goal. That trio, I think, is better than last year's third line. More scoring and more (skilled) size.

- The Ovechkin power play goal (that Jesper Fast tried to block but ended up re-directing into the net) was the first time this year Fast has been on the ice for a shorthanded goal against. He's easily become a fixture on this team on a Dominic Moore level. That's an enormous compliment.

- Just a friendly reminder that there were people in the media who didn't bat an eye when J.T. Miller and Fast sat so Tanner Glass could play. Now suddenly they're too vital to sit. Which is why I laugh when the same people don't think it's a big deal James Sheppard is sitting. You know, until he plays and they finally see how much of an upgrade he is.

- And this is what I was talking about with the "big play" memories. Martin St. Louis had a remarkably forgettable game (and that's being nice) but scored a huge goal so everyone thinks he is playing great. St. Louis should probably not see too much more power play time until he gets his game together. I love him as much as anyone on this team, but the turnovers and inability to slow the play down a little is hurting the Rangers. And it's hurting Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan. Although Kreider and St. Louis do team up for some magical plays. Last night's goal was one of them.

- Dan Boyle had an assist and probably had his best game of the year all around. Boyle has really been good this year defensively, it's the offense that isn't there. He was brought in to be a second pair defenseman and right now he's the number four guy.

- Keith Yandle seems to be the next guy the media is all over, because, you know, he's apparently a problem. Here's the thing: Yandle is NEVER going to be a guy who fires the puck from the point. He's not that player. He never was that player. So to expect him to become that player overnight is insanity. When he has the puck on the power play other players need to find space. That's what Yandle does, he gets the puck to space. Sitting around isn't going to help. But it's not on Yandle.

- Here's to hoping Kevin Klein is OK. I made a comment on Twitter about how there wouldn't be much of a difference between him and Matt Hunwick if he needed to step in. People, uh, did not like that. But I stand by it.

- These are the nights when I love the Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh pairing (I always love McDonagh). Just soaking up minute after minute and making sure Ovechkin doesn't have any room to breath. Fantastic. And Girardi's absolutely clean but utter destruction hit on Jay Beagle? Amazing. Ovechkin's head shot to Miller? I doubt the NHL even knows it happened.

- All alone atop the NHL. It's a good feeling, no?