Recap: Caps Blank Rangers, 4-0

Hit. The. Net.

The Rangers resumed their season after the holiday break with a Metro matchup against the Washington Capitals.

Even if you didn’t know about the break, you might have assumed it based on the sloppy start to the game. Everyone seemed a little discombobulated. The Rangers, the Caps, the officials, Sam– heck, even the clock glitched out. About halfway through the period, Ryan Lindgren and Chris Kreider were sent to the box on back-to-back weakish calls to give the Caps a minute forty of five-on-three. Washington didn’t need that long to convert, as Marcus Johansson jammed home a rebound that Jacob Trouba couldn’t clear. In the back half of the period, the pace took off after a Rangers powerplay, with both teams narrowly missing a goal.

With a one nothing lead, the Capitals clamped down on the Rangers in the second, playing solid defense. Shesterkin made a couple highlight reel saves throughout the game, including stonewalling a partial breakaway from Anthony Mantha.

There was a ten minute stretch in the middle of the period where the Rangers only put one shot on goal, though that is partially because the Rangers missed the net in some good spots. You know what that means. That’s right. It was time for Gerard Gallant to head into the kitchen and blend some lines. Almost immediately after, Vincent Trocheck took a puck to the knee and came up hobbling, which allowed Washington an odd-man rush that Eric Gustafsson finished off to add to their lead. Gallant issued a coach’s challenge, asserting that Connor Sheary interfered with Shesterkin but after review the goal stood, so Washington was back on the powerplay. Shesterkin made an absolutely incredible glove save against his own momentum to momentarily keep the deficit at two, but Lars Eller went on to score inside the last minute to put the Caps up three-nothing.

The third period was, essentially, more of the same. The Rangers managed to put on pressure but between missing shots and Darcy Kuemper’s performance, they simply could not find twine. Sheary deposited an empty-netter for a final score of 4-0.

The Rangers basically did everything except for finish. They ended up with a comfortable lead in expected goals—3.9 to 2.6—affirming what we witnessed: the Rangers moved the puck into dangerous spots but didn’t take advantage of it. Credit to Kuemper for his play, but the Rangers also made his job easier by failing to make him make saves.

The Rangers will head south to play the Tampa Lightning on Thursday.