This one is a tough loss to swallow. The Rangers outplayed the Capitals in all three zones, but couldn’t find a way to score the ever elusive third goal. Our forecheck was on fire tonight and almost every line generated some very good scoring chances. Unfortunately, most of those chances ended in a missed shot, a re-direction, or a shot off the post.
On to the scoring:
The last recap I wrote, I talked about plays which led to goals that were sure to make the coaches happy. The Capitals first goal came from a play that is sure to make Torts glue Bickel’s ass to the bench. Bickel went to the boards to receive a hard-around, but kind of pulled up awkwardly and lost his balance a little bit. This clearly made him rush his decision to get rid of the puck and instead of dumping it he blindly threw it across the ice, which was intercepted by Ward. A 3-on-2 ensued and Knuble was there for the finish at the far post.
Normally on odd man rushes I look to see which forwards fail to backcheck, but this interception was so high in the zone there was little chance our forecheckers could get back in time.
This goal is likely to cause some controversy in Rangerland and I may have to enlist Justin (our goalie expert) to help me out on this one. Everyone seems to be blaming Hank for failing to handle the puck behind his own net and while that may be the case, I thought the real problem was he misread the speed of the puck along the boards. The puck came around much slower than anticipated and by the time it got to him, Chimera was in Hank’s face. Credit Chimera though, he got to that puck so quickly. A couple of strides through the neutral zone and Stralman was in the dust.
As you already know, Chimera was able to tap the puck off of McDonagh’s foot and in, but I don’t really blame McDonagh there, just as I didn’t blame MDZ for the goal that went off of his foot against the Senators. You have see how these plays develop to correctly assign blame.
2-1 Caps, Rangers get on board
With less than a minute left in the third, the Rangers were able to capitalize on Brooks Laich’s lazy line change. Laich went for a change while the Rangers had the puck in the neutral zone. I believe Stralman hit MDZ with a pass along the boards at the Capitals blueline. MDZ was able to thread a diagonal pass to Gaborik, who snuck into the zone around Washington’s coverage. Schultz bit hard towards Gabby, who then fed an uncovered Richards on Holtby’s doorstep. Great goal off a great passing sequence.
2-2, Rangers even it up on the power play
This goal is an easy one to break down. The Rangers were generating some solid chances on the power play, but were just coming up short with near misses. With about a minute left in the power play Stepan barely kept the puck in at the blueline. Step was able to get it to Richards at the point. Richards was pressured and fed the puck back to Stepan. Stepan hit MDZ with a cross-ice pass. MDZ threw one on net that was tipped in by Cally.
If the Rangers power play (or just their point play in general) keeps up at this pace, goals should theoretically be easier to come by. Their passing really led to some great chances. A few less missed nets would really go a long way in helping this PP become dangerous.
Caps go up 3-2 and hold on for the win
The final goal came from a point shot by Ovie on a Caps power play. Backstrom won the faceoff in our zone and the puck went right to Ovie at the point. Ovie threaded a hard wrister through Boyle and Brouwer (who were screening Lundqvist) and that was all she wrote.
Overall I thought the Rangers played a more complete game, but missed opportunities ultimately did them in. If MDZ and Richie had put more pucks on net or if Kreider finishes on that breakaway, this game could have easily been a blowout. Hopefully the Rangers find a way to cash it in when they get to DC.