The New York Rangers registered their second straight victory this evening with a dominating 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals. In a game that was expected to have plenty of action, it would be the Rangers taking it to the Capitals on both the scoreboard and the physical battle. Igor Shesterkin turned aside 36 saves on the evening, and improved to 25-5-3 with his 25th of the season.
Mika Zibanejad (20) - Alexis Lafrenière (4) & Zac Jones (2) - 12:57
While everyone expecting some early game festivities with Tom Wilson, the Rangers came out with a strong start to this game at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers’ top line was able to get on the board early tonight with Alexis Lafrenière setting up Mika Zibanejad with a pretty drop pass. Zibanejad was able to step into the shot off of the quick pass back and absolutely blasted a slap shot through Ilya Samsonov. ESPN clocked the shot at 100mph as it came in on goal, and Zibanejad’s 20th gave the Rangers the early lead.
Alexis Lafrenière (11) - Ryan Lindgren (6) - 18:48
Alexis Lafrenière has been a much needed addition to the Rangers’ top line, and as a result, it has sparked some life into his game as well. After assisting on the opening goal by Zibanejad, Lafrenière added a goal of his own to double up New York’s lead. Following some extended zone time, Ryan Lindgren elected to put the puck on goal with traffic setting up in front of Samsonov. Lafrenière was in perfect position after rotating to the front of the net, and deflected home his 11th of the season.
Chris Kreider (34) - Adam Fox (42) & Mika Zibanejad (33) - 6:57
The Rangers were able to carry over their momentum into the third period after killing off an early penalty, and eventually turned that into their third goal of the night. Alexis Lafrenière didn’t get an assist on the goal, but his persistent forecheck kept the play alive and allowed the puck to get to Adam Fox. Following a quick head fake, Fox put the puck towards the goal and the shot gave Samsonov some trouble. Chris Kreider was ready and waiting in his office, and collected the rebound to put the Rangers out in front with a three-goal lead.
Barclay Goodrow (11) - Kevin Rooney (5) & Ryan Reaves (8) - 11:09
BARCLAY GOODROW GOES FIVE-HOLE FOR THE GOAL‼️ pic.twitter.com/15gWWWbrvp— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 25, 2022
Gerard Gallant rewarded his fourth line tonight after they put forth quite an effort, and he put them out late in the game against Washington’s top line. Right off of the defensive zone draw, Ryan Reaves hustled for a loose puck and outworked Alex Ovechkin to create a 2-on-1 rush. Kevin Rooney was able to transition the puck up the ice, and found Barclay Goodrow wide open in the middle of the ice. After received the pass, Goodrow made a move to his backhand and slipped the puck through the legs of Samsonov to give New York a commanding 4-0 lead.
Alex Ovechkin (32) - Evgeny Kuznetsov (34) - 18:58
Igor Shesterkin had another heck of game in the crease for the Rangers, but unfortunately his shutout was spoiled with just over a minute remaining in the game. Some coverage issues after the faceoff loss by the Rangers allowed Alex Ovechkin to open up on the far post undetected. Evgeny Kuznetsov was able to quickly shovel a pass across the ice, and Ovechkin tapped home his 32nd of the season.
There’s been the ongoing narrative that Tom Wilson had broken the Rangers, but after tonight’s result, I don’t think that could be further from the truth. Igor Shesterkin certainly helped clean up some mistakes through the game, but overall the Rangers completely neutralized the Capitals for a majority of this game. They were a step ahead of the play all night long, and didn’t allow the Capitals stars to get involved, even with the man-advantage. Following tonight’s deserving win, the Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow before returning to action on Saturday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins.