Blinding City Lights; Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers

RecordGoaltenderGAA / SV%
Washington Capitals6-1-3Vitek Vanecek2.78 / .918
New York Rangers3-4-2Igor Shestyorkin2.73 / .894
Predicted Goaltender

After taking 9 of 12 possible points through six home games, and 15 of a possible 20 over their first 10 games, the Capitals are back on the road for one game to take on the New York Rangers. Although the Caps have dropped their last two games against the Rangers, they had strung together 7 consecutive wins prior, and had wins in 10 of 11. It is worth noting that 6 of their last 13 have needed overtime or a shootout to determine a winner, and four have gone in favor of the Capitals.

On Monday night, the Washington Capitals dropped their first game in regulation, 5-3, after allowing another come-from-behind effort from the Boston Bruins. The Florida Panthers are the only team remaining who has yet to lose in regulation (6GP). Dmitry Orlov returned to the lineup after missing five games due to COVID protocol violations, and was paired with Nick Jensen as the 3rd defensive pairing. Jakub Vrana was moved down to the 4LW spot and Conor Sheary up to the 2LW position. Alex Ovechkin took his normal spot on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson. Heading into Monday’s game, the Capitals had trailed for a league-fewest 46:15 minutes (among teams with at least 7GP). Washington’s defensemen had put up a combined 28 points (9G, 19A), which is T2nd most in the NHL (Vancouver- 30; Colorado- 28).

Carl Hagelin thought he had scored his first of the season at the 11:41 mark of the first period, but Bruins bench-boss Bruce Cassidy took a gamble by challenging the goal for off-sides. The initial call of a good goal was overturned and so the score stayed 0-0. But just 1:45 seconds later, Zdeno Chara would score against his former team to give the Capitals their 1-0 lead back.

Then 11 seconds after Chara’s goal, Daniel Sprong scored his 2nd of the season to make it 2-0 Washington.

The Capitals ended the first, and started the second, with 23 seconds remaining on the power play thanks to a Jakub Zboril cross-checking penalty but would not convert. TJ Oshie went off for holding just three minutes and seven seconds into the second and with 55 seconds left on the penalty, Garnet Hathaway was called for delay of game, so the Bruins skated 5-on-3 for nearly a minute. Thankfully for Washington, Boston would not convert, even with the two-man advantage. Jeremy Lauzon was assessed a minor penalty for hooking at the 7:19 mark, and just over 60 seconds into the power play, John Carlson would score with a rocket of a shot to make it 3-0, Capitals.

But Carlson’s goal, in giving the Caps another 3-0 lead, would be the start of Boston’s comeback for a 2nd straight game. Four minutes later, David Pastrnak scored his 1st of the season to get the Bruins on the board. Many believed it would be different this time, and that there was no way the Caps would allow another three-goal comeback, especially since they led 3-1 heading into the third period, and maintained that two-goal lead for the first six minutes into the final frame. But Pastrnak would go on to score his 2nd of the night at the 6:08 mark to cut Washington’s lead to one. Seven minutes later, Craig Smith tied the game with his 3rd of the season, and all of a sudden, Caps fans were praying for an overtime period. But Brandon Carlo would score the eventual game-winning goal with 2:30 left in the game, even after Washington vacated their net for the extra attacker. Brad Marchand guaranteed the win with an empty-net goal, putting up Boston’s 4th goal in just about 12 minutes.

The Capitals killed off all four of the Bruins power plays, and converted on one of their own to go 1-for-4 on the night. Vitek Vanecek made his 7th start, but would ultimately concede four goals on 32 shots to mark his first regulation loss.

The New York Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday to win just their 3rd game in 9 games. Jason Zucker scored Pittsburgh’s singular goal of the match at the 9:05 mark of the first period. Kasperi Kapanen and Brett Howden each received five-minute majors for fighting upon expiration of the first. It wasn’t until late in the 2nd period that the Rangers would score. With just over two minutes remaining, Kevin Rooney tallied his 2nd of the season to tie the game 1-1. The Penguins received three power plays in the 2nd period, but were unable to convert on a single one. Chris Kreider broke the tie by scoring the ultimate game-winning goal at the 11:10 mark of the third period, . To seal the deal, Artemi Panarin put up his third point of the night with an empty-net goal with one second remaining in regulation (after tallying two assists). Igor Shetsyorkin got the start for the Rangers and allowed just one goal on 26 shots for a .962 save percentage. The win marked his 2nd of the season.

The Rangers killed off all six penalties taken, but also did not convert on any of their own four power plays.

Notable Numbers:

  1. Rangers are in last place in the MassMutual East Division.
  2. NYR power play is operating at just 14.7% (23 of 31)
  3. Both goaltenders (Shestyorkin and Georgiev) have save percentages under .900.
  4. Artemi Panarin leads NYR with 9 points (4G, 5A), and is a point-per-game in 15 games against Washington.
  5. Defenseman Jack Johnson is playing a career-low 16:37 average TOI

Notably, and as many of our readers probably already know, the Rangers placed problematic racist Tony DeAngelo on waivers and cleared on Monday. Where he is off to next is to be determined, but many predict that he is done in the NHL and will head to Russia, likely to join problematic misogynist Brendan Leipsic. Though the story is still developing, it is known that DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev were involved in an altercation after the team’s loss to the Penguins on Saturday night. Chris Kreider’s name was mentioned for having allegedly punching DeAngelo, and K’Andre Miller as well, for having split up the physical exchange. The Rangers previously expressed worry concerning Miller after DeAngelo expressed racially-charged discriminatory remarks towards him, despite Miller having been previously supportive of DeAngelo.

Lars Eller and Brian Pinho skated in non-contact jerseys on Tuesday. Conor Sheary did not practice and is considered day-to-day with a lower body injury, nor did Justin Schultz (puck-to-face). Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov have not yet been cleared from the COVID Absences list in order to skate. Jakub Vrana returned to the 2nd line left-wing spot during Wednesday morning practice, and Vitek Vanecek was named as NHL Rookie of the Month for January.

Sportsnet, NHL Network, MSG, and NBC Sports Washington will be covering Capitals vs Rangers, from Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, with puck drop coming shortly after 7:00pm.

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