The New York Rangers were officially eliminated from the 2021 playoffs this evening after they were handed a 6-3 loss by the Washington Capitals. Washington jumped out to an early 2-0 in this game, before the Rangers rattled off three of their own in a little under seven minutes. However, the Capitals returned the favor with four unanswered goals during the final 22 minutes to secure the win.
Nic Dowd (10) - Carl Hagelin (9) & Garnet Hathaway (11) - 14:12
The Rangers’ first mistake of the evening came at the 14:12 mark of the first period as the Capitals were able to convert on a 2-on-1 into the offensive zone. Washington was able to transition the puck all the way up the ice following a defensive zone draw, and beat the Rangers through the neutral zone. Tarmo Reunanen was caught pinching a little too far up the ice, and Nic Dowd was able to take advantage of the open space. Igor Shesterkin got beat through the legs after anticipating the pass and the Capitals jumped out to an early 1-0 lead.
Conor Sheary (13) - Michael Raffl (6) & Tom Wilson (20) - 15:44
A little over a minute later, the Capitals doubled up that lead with Conor Sheary scoring his 13th of the season. A harmless play around the boards wound up leading to the goal as the puck landed on Tom Wilson’s stick and he immediately shoveled a pass back across the ice. The puck inadvertently deflected off of Michael Raffl’s skate in front of the net and landed right on the tape of Conor Sheary. Igor Shesterkin never stood a chance with the quick change in direction and Washington took a 2-0 lead.
Mika Zibanejad (21) - Artemiy Panarin (40) & Pavel Buchnevich (25) - 18:00
Despite giving up the opening two goals, the Rangers continued pressuring in the offensive zone and quickly responded just over two minutes later. A beautiful tap pass through the neutral zone by Artemiy Panarin generated the chance, and allowed Mika Zibanejad to skate into the zone with speed. Zibanejad was able to collect the in stride and absolutely wired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Vitek Vancek.
Mika Zibanejad (22) - Ryan Strome (33) & Artemiy Panarin (41) PPG - 2:30
Mika Zibanejad wouldn’t stop at just one either, and he was able to single handedly pull the Rangers back even in this game. The Rangers’ first power play unit was absolutely cooking to start the man-advantage, and they wound up hitting two posts prior to actually scoring. Two quick passes by Artemiy Panarin and Ryan Strome stretched out the Capitals coverage, and that left Zibanejad wide open in the middle of the ice. Mika made zero mistake this time around and buried the puck over a sprawling Vancek to knot up the game at 2-2.
Kaapo Kakko (9) - Alexis Lafrenière (9) & Kevin Rooney (6) - 4:35
Exactly 1:15 later, the kids followed suit with a ridiculous goal of their as Kaapo Kakko notched just his ninth goal of the season. Alexis Lafrenière setup the entire sequence with a beautiful drag move around Zdeno Chara and forced him down to the ice. Lafrenière was able to somehow get a pass off to the far side of the net, and placed the puck right on Kakko’s tape. The goal would have still been impressive if it ended there, but Kakko made it even better with a finesse toe drag around Vancek to give New York their first lead of the evening.
Garnet Hathaway (6) - Nic Dowd (3) - 18:30
With a little under two minutes remaining in the second period, the Capitals were able to stun the Rangers with a late tying goal. The Rangers were unable to clear the puck in front of their own net after a shot from Nic Dowd, and that left a wide open rebound. The Capitals kept grinding away and Garnet Hathaway was able to eventually slam the puck under Igor Shesterkin.
Daniel Sprong (12) - Unassisted - 4:37
Mental mistakes have costed the Rangers over their last several games, and Brendan Smith certainly didn’t help the cause tonight. After hesitating and whiffing on an attempted pass, Smith wound up coughing up the puck and letting it slide right into the middle of the ice. Daniel Sprong was able to quickly pounce on the loose puck, and slip the puck around Igor Shesterkin after making a move to his forehand. It was a costly mistake all around, and the Rangers suddenly found themselves down by a goal yet again.
Nicklas Backstrom (15) - Michael Raffl (7) & Nick Jensen (12) - 11:41
About seven minutes after retaking the lead, the Capitals made the Rangers pay through the neutral zone yet again, and got a much needed insurance marker. Michael Raffl was able to catch four separate Rangers napping, and sprung Nicklas Backstrom in on a partial breakaway. Backstrom was able to fight off two back checkers and sniped a shot under the crossbar to give Washington a 5-3 lead.
Tom Wilson (13) - John Carlson (33) ENG - 18:34
All things considered, the Rangers were actually playing well tonight until they witnessed one of their superstars body slammed right in front of them. To make matters worse, Artemiy Panarin was the one who was forced to miss the rest of the game while Wilson returned after “serving” 14 minutes in penalties. Everyone saw what happened, so there’s really no point in in delving more into the situation when the evidence speaks for itself.
The Rangers will have a rematch on Wednesday night against the Capitals, and knowing the Department of Player Safety, Tom Wilson will almost certainly escape unharmed once again. So, that should be fun!