Lundqvist, Zuccarello Lead Rangers Past Capitals

Following Thursday night’s loss to the New York Islanders, which snapped a six game winning streak, the New York Rangers rebounded this afternoon against the Washington Capitals. Henrik Lundqvist, who started off the afternoon with minimal work, reeled in a huge win with his strong play during the second half of this game. His  biggest save of the day came during the closing seconds, as Lundqvist denied Marcus Johansson at the top of the crease to preserve the one goal lead.

With the Rangers coming out of the gates flying, they were able to take the early advantage with a goal coming from Ryan McDonagh at 7:49. After a great individual effort off to the side of the net, McDonagh picked up the puck in the high slot and ripped a spin around shot under the crossbar. Philipp Grubauer didn’t stand much of a chance on the shot and the Rangers were able to capitalize on their early chances.

Later on in the first period, the Rangers had a massive opportunity to take control of the game with Brooks Orpik heading off for interference. Mika Zibanejad wound up converting near the end of the power play, and it appeared as if the Rangers would take a 2-0 lead into the intermission.

However, the Capitals challenged the goal for offsides and won the call after it was determined that McDonagh’s skate was off the ice on the zone entry. Even though McDonagh’s skate was technically above the blue line, the rule states that a player skate must be on the ice to be considered onsides. With the goal being waived off, the Rangers held a 1-0 lead heading into the second period, and looked to break their trend of shaky second periods.

Unfortunately, the Rangers slowed down a bit during the middle frame, as expected, and that allowed the Capitals to make their push. The Rangers did an excellent job of keeping the Capitals contained for the most part, until a late power play made it an even game. Following a mad scramble in the corner, Lars Eller found Alex Ovechkin camped in his signature spot, and Ovi fired a shot just over Lundqvist’s glove.

The initial shot appeared to deflect off of Nick Holden’s stick at the top of the crease, which caused the puck to change direction just enough to fool Lundqvist. With the Rangers looking to prove themselves against one of the league’s best, they needed a big response in the third period.

Thankfully, the Rangers were able to get their opportunity after a set faceoff win by Mika Zibanejad in the offensive zone. Chris Kreider pushed the puck forward through the defenseman and quickly found Zuccarello in the high slot for a scoring opportunity. The pass appeared to handcuff Zuccarello, but he kicked the puck to his stick and fired a shot through the legs of Grubauer.

With Zuccarello’s timely goal, the Rangers found themselves ahead by a goal with a little under 12 minutes remaining in regulation. Henrik Lundqvist did an excellent job of keeping the Capitals off the board in the third period, with a late push by the visiting team. Lundqvist turned away one final opportunity in close by Marcus Johansson, who had two swats at the puck but Lundqvist was able to kick the puck into the corner.

After their six game winning streak was snapped on Thursday, the Rangers wasted no time getting back into the win column. Following today’s big win over the Metro leading Capitals, the Rangers will have another tough matchup coming up on Tuesday as they welcome the Montreal Canadiens to Madison Square Garden.