1 Total Update since January 24, 2011
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
WASHINGTON -- For the second consecutive game, the New York Rangers pulled off a third-period, come-from-behind shootout victory on the road -- this time against the Washington Capitals, 2-1. Artem Anisimov's fourth-round backhander was the decisive goal in a the type of game that has become a trademark of the Rangers' season.
Down 1-0 in the third period of a game that didn't necessarily feel like it was fully in the Capitals' grasp, the Rangers stuck with it. It's been their mantra the entire season -- and it's been a successful one. With just under seven minutes left in the game, the hard work and resiliency paid off, even if it was far from picture perfect.
Brian Boyle snapped a shot from the circle that was saved by Brian Holtby. The ensuing rebound popped up and Marian Gaborik knocked it out of mid air. The goal was reviewed, but ultimately it stood and the Rangers were rewarded for sticking with their gameplan.
A gameplan that included a defensively sound approach and a heavy dose of Marc Staal and Michael Sauer on Alex Ovechkin. Even though the Rangers finished the game with a 29-23 shot advantage (though it was much larger for most of the game), the Caps certainly had a number of high-quality chances. But for the most part, the Rangers' defense was exceptional. Staal and Sauer, who were paired together, were sensational -- and Ovechkin was flustered because of it. Ovechkin (who, oddly, was also the third star in the game, despite Matt Hendricks scoring off of a nifty cross-ice pass from Marcus Johansson in the second period), was active in the game, but not entirely dominant. He got called for a dive on a Brandon Prust holding penalty -- and even with six shots on net, Ovechkin was repeatedly stymied by the Rangers' All-Star and 23-year-old rookie. It was evident on the ice that Staal's shutdown defense was getting to the Russian sniper. Besides Gaborik and Anisimov coming up big in this game, Staal's 29-plus minutes of blanketing defense has to earn high praise.
Martin Biron (22 saves) was superb in net all night, bailing the Rangers out the few times the Capitals caught the Rangers' defensemen out of position, and making six saves in an overtime period that the Caps controlled. He also stoned Ovechkin in the first round of the shootout. Matt Hendricks and Nicklas Backstrom would score in the next two rounds, but a save on a Johansson led to Anisimov's heroics.
The Rangers scored three times against Holtby in the shootout -- with a beautiful fake-shot-to-backhand deke by Wojtek Wolski, and yet another slow backhand-to-forehand move for Mats Zuccarello, who is now 4-for-4 in the shootout.
New York is now 17-9-1 on the road and will conclude the first half of its season tomorrow against the Florida Panthers.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The New York Rangers (28-19-3) limp -- literally -- into Washington, D.C., to take on the Capitals (27-14-8) coming off of one of their gutsiest performances of the year Saturday against the Atlanta Thrashers. Having eventually mustered a shootout victory with a third-period comeback in a game that saw them play over a period minus two skaters, as Dan Girardi and Brandon Prust both left the game injured, is truly a representation of this team's never-quit mentality. The Blueshirts are also 16-9-1 on the road this year.
The Capitals come into this game winners of three of their past four games, all of which were against lower-tier Eastern opponents. Prior to this stretch they had lost three straight -- and in fact, their last win against a team currently in playoff position came against the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year's (though they did have two overtime losses to the Lightning and Flyers).
The Caps hope, though, that the Alex Ovechkin's hat trick in the previous game jumpstarts the world-class scorer, who has 19 goals and 32 assists on the season. Alexander Semin (18 goals), Nicklas Backstrom (12 goals) and Mike Knuble are the only other players with more than 10 goals on the season for the Caps.
With so much talent on the offensive end for Washington, it would behoove the Rangers to play one of their grinding/hitting style games, while keeping their defense a priority. Despite sustaining a rib muscle injury during a fight in the last game, Girardi participated in the morning skate -- but John Tortorella said he has been ruled out. New York has promoted Michael Del Zotto. The Rangers have also recalled 20-year-old Evgeny Grachev from the Connecticut Whale, in case Brandon Prust (ankle) can't play. Prust's grinding, high-motor style would also be a key loss, but it seems that he is good to go; he did not participate in the morning skate to rest himself for tonight. Grachev or Brodie Dupont will sit if Prust plays.
The last game between these two teams the Rangers won 7-0, but the Caps have dominated the Blueshirts in their last 12 meetings, with a 9-2-1 record.
The Rangers will undoubtedly rely heavily on the impressive Woljek Wolski-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello line to produce offense and they'd certainly be happy to see Marian Gaborik (no goals since his four-goal outburst on Jan. 19) chip in with some goals. Sean Avery is coming off a well-earned season-high in ice time and he's seen much more 5-on-5 play in the past three games with the Rangers facing so many injuries. An engaged Avery is always an asset and lately he's been just that. Expect John Tortorella to roll four lines early and scale it back as the game progresses, depending on the situation.
. He'll have to be big in net -- but certainly the Rangers' feisty play will be crucial in this one.