Recap: Get the Brooms! Rangers Sweep Washington

The Rangers learned the hard way in 2022 that the only thing harder than making a run in the playoffs is making a run by going to several game sevens. That, mixed with the benefit of winning the Presidents’ Trophy and landing a favorable matchup, the Rangers had to take advantage and put this series to bed as quickly and easily as possible. With a 3-0 lead on the series, the potential to sweep was there but the Capitals weren’t going to go down without a fight. Nevertheless, the Rangers understood the assignment and did what they do best, found a way to win a hockey game. Break out the brooms!

1st Period:

The pace to start Game 4 was unlike anything we’ve seen in the series up to this point. The Capitals were on the brink of elimination and came out playing as such. Earlier in the week, I mentioned how the Capitals were due to get some reinforcements on the back end and that the Rangers would need to take advantage of that. Low and behold, Will Cuylle did an excellent job of forechecking Nick Jensen who alongside Rasmus Sandin, made their postseason debut. Cuylle forced a turnover from Jensen that Kaapo Kakko was right there to fire home, 1-0 Rangers less than one minute into the game. 

That would be the second of two early whistles but for the next five minutes or so, it was nonstop action. This game was wide open compared to anything we’ve seen through the first three games and it showed as Washington had four odd man rushes through the first half of the opening period. As a result, Igor Shesterkin played a huge role in the Rangers finding success through the first period as he had to come up with a couple of key saves to keep the Rangers going. 

Outside of the Kakko goal, it was a pretty low event period for fifteen minutes. Few stoppages, no penalties but all it takes is one quick break for things to change. Aleksei Protas would find the puck along the half wall, sending it over to Martin Fehervary who was cutting hard towards the slot. The Capitals defender fired a shot past Shesterkin on a wide open blocker side of the net for his second of the series to tie the game up, 1-1. 

Getting scored on is always stressful for fans but that would be nothing compared to the final 70 seconds of the period. Nearing the last minute of the period, Nick Jensen leg tripped Adam Fox which for a brief moment, absolutely terrified hundreds of thousands of fans across the tri-state area and then some. Fox, who missed 10 games earlier in the season with a lower-body injury, was in some pain which was enough to keep him off the power play to start the next shift. Thankfully, he got up on his own power and after a quick little skate, seemed to be okay. 

He was able to join his usual power play line later that shift and with 16 seconds to go in the period, helped the Rangers regain the lead. A perfect passing play left Artemiy Panarin and Mika Zibanejad sending it to Vincent Trocheck in the slot to lift one past Charlie Lindgren, making it a 2-0 game. 

And then chaos ensued. Can always count on #43 in red to fail to keep it classy and sure enough, Tom Wilson was right there doing Tom Wilson things after the goal. As the Rangers were in the midst of celebrating, Wilson went straight for Fox in an attempt to get a rise out of him and his teammates. All it did was earn him two minutes in the penalty box. 

The Rangers would start the third with a power play which left them in pretty good shape after the games first twenty. Shots on goal after the first were 10-8 in favor of New York however, it was Washington leading the way in face-offs, hits and high danger scoring chances. The Capitals came into this one with the desperation they needed if they were going to have a chance to keep this thing alive but the Rangers fought it off with a pair of key goals. 

2nd Period:

With close to a full power play to start the second, the Rangers had the advantage out the gate but wouldn’t be able to do much with it. After another cleared puck from Washington, power play 2 started to take the ice however, Panarin stayed out with them. Of course right as time expired, a Panarin shot from the point was blocked in front by Nick Jensen which allowed him to send Beck Malenstyn on a breakaway. A calm and cool effort from Igor Shesterkin helped keep things as they were.  

Not long after the teams returned to even strength, Braden Schneider took the first penalty of the night as he was called for hooking TJ Oshie. A big chance for the Capitals but again, the Rangers penalty killers came up big, keeping their opponents from getting set up without registering a shot on goal. Unfortunately for the Rangers, that would be the lone positive from the period. 

The Rangers were incredibly sloppy and had a much more difficult time getting pucks out of their own end. Just two minutes away from the midway point of the game, the Rangers top line got caught out there on a way too long shift. Moments like this are where little things like getting the puck fully out of the zone or taking that extra stride to get the line are so important but alas, they couldn’t do it and Henrdix Lapierre took advantage of that. Fresh on the ice, Lapierre flew past Ryan Lindgren and put away his own rebound to tie the game up, 2-2. 

At this point, the Rangers had one shot on goal in the second period. Not exactly a recipe for success. There wouldn’t be much else of note that took place through the rest of the second but one thing was for sure, and that’s the Rangers needed to find a higher level in the third. It’s obvious and understandable that Washington had more of a jump as they were fighting to keep their postseason alive but the Rangers are too good of a team to let that get to them.

Through forty minutes, the Blueshirts really got away from their game. They were unable to generate a strong forecheck which was preventing them from sustaining any offensive zone time let alone shots on goal. Total shots were now 18-17 in favor of Washington and while it was still a tied game, the Rangers really needed to find their edge if they wanted to close things out tonight. 

3rd Period:

The Rangers were off to a much better start in the third and were soon rewarded with their third power play of the night. Trocheck took a stick up high from Oshie while collecting the puck in their own end which gave them the chance to regain control of things. It wouldn’t take long for the Rangers top power play unit to get set up and sure enough, the Breadman stepped up. Panarin spent all summer preparing to be the guy for this team and not just the guy that carries them in the regular season. Picking up the go ahead goal to regain momentum in the third of a series clinching game is about as big as it gets. 3-2 Rangers. 

A minute and a half later, a terrible defensive zone giveaway by Jacob Trobua forced Barclay Goodrow to take a hooking penalty on what would have been a grade A chance for Connor McMichael. Washington would get yet another chance to get their power play led by their face of the franchise going but as what became the story of the series, the Rangers took control while shorthanded. 

It would be a long ten minutes in the middle of the third as the Rangers were appearing to sit back too early and the Capitals were still hungry, fighting for their lives. Still, the Rangers were playing better than they had in the second and had some confidence with the one goal lead. With five minutes to go, the Capitals were going to look to pull Lindgren and give it one last big push but a late tripping penalty to Sandin gave the Rangers an opportune power play to close out the final three minutes of play. 

The Rangers started out the man advantage business as usual but once Washington started getting the puck out, they grew more conservative. By the time the second power play unit took the ice, you could tell the goal was just to fight off the remaining time on the clock but thankfully Alexis Lafrenière would move it ahead to Jack Roslovic, who put away the empty netter for his second of the playoffs, finalizing the score of Game 4, 4-2. 

The first and only series of the first round of the 2024 playoffs to end in four games, the Rangers have earned themselves a well-deserved break but they know as well as the fans do that the work is only just beginning. The Rangers were one of the few heavy favorites in round one as they matched up incredibly well against a retooling Capitals team and as a result, the sweep isn’t too big of a surprise. 

The Rangers could know their next opponent as early as Tuesday as they will await the outcome of the Hurricanes, Islanders series. The Canes were threatening a sweep as well but the Islanders picked up a massive double overtime win on Saturday to hang on for another day. Until then, rest up and enjoy the ride!