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.