Missing Six Regulars, Rangers Fall To Caps 2-0

Heading into tonight’s matchup against the Washington Capitals, the New York Rangers were expected to be without at least four regulars. As Alain Vigneault announced yesterday, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, Jesper Fast, and Ryan McDonagh were all expected to miss tonight’s game to heal up for the playoffs. To everyone’s surprise, Brady Skjei and Nick Holden were added to that list about two before game time, which resulted in quite a lineup heading into tonight’s contest.

Not that it mattered all that much to the Rangers, as they punched their ticket some time ago and are more worried about being healthy come Game 1 in Montreal. The Capitals on the other hand, had one more goal in sight and that was to win the President’s Trophy for the second straight year. While the Capitals had something to play for, you could tell both teams were playing this one cautiously as both were heading in opposite directions when the playoffs hit.

That made for a rather sloppy hockey game and a pretty boring one to watch at that. Despite the Rangers having the shot advantage during the first period, neither team was able to find the back of the net. The score would remain scoreless throughout most of the second period as well, until Justin Williams finally broke the ice at the 14:49 mark.

The goal was initially credited to Alex Ovechkin, who ripped a shot through traffic which beat Lundqvist over the shoulder. After giving the goal a second look, it appeared as if Williams tipped the puck just before it reached the net. Heading into the third period with a 1-0 lead, the Capitals continued to pressure the Rangers and eventually came away with their second of the game.

Following a careless pinch by Dan Girardi, Marcus Johansson was able to find Evgeny Kuznetsov breaking in down the right wing and sent him in on a partial breakaway. Kuznetsov was able to fool Lundqvist with a couple of moves, and slipped the puck by him on the short side. That goal gave the Capitals a commanding 2-0 lead, and the Rangers never found a way to respond. Between Brayden Holtby and the Capitals suffocating defense, the Rangers weren’t able to get many scoring opportunities and fell by a final score of 2-0.

With the Rangers fate destined for Montreal, they will have two more games remaining on the schedule before beginning their journey. That will start with Saturday afternoon’s game against the Ottawa Senators.