The Washington Capitals beat the New York Rangers 5-2 Sunday night at Verizon Center, improving their league’s best record to a gaudy 34-8-3 (71 points). The loss dropped the Rangers record to 24-16-5 (53 points), 18 points behind first-place Washington. This was the Capitals 12th straight win on home ice at Verizon Center, one shy of the franchise record. The Capitals next play Tuesday night against the Blue Jackets in Columbus.
The Capitals have beaten the Rangers in three of their first four meetings this season. The final regular season meeting between the two teams is slated for March 4th at Verizon Center. The starting lines for the Capitals:
John Carlson missed his 11th straight game since sustaining a lower body injury against Montreal on December 26th. Brooks Orpik missed his 32nd straight game since sustaining a lower body injury in Detroit on November 10th. Jay Beagle missed his ninth straight game due to an injury to his hand he sustained in the game against the Buffalo Sabres on December 30th. Zach Sill, Ryan Stanton and Michael Latta were the healthy scratches. The goalie match-up for tonight’s game, provided by @CapsGoalies :
The Rangers had the offensive zone advantage in 5-on-5 play for the first period and half of the second period, leading in shots on goal 17-9. However, The Capitals would seemingly take control of the game at the mid-way point of the middle frame. Braden Holtby would take himself out of the game with 2:18 remaining in the second period. It would be later reported that Holtby was suffering from dehydration. Philipp Grubauer stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief of Braden Holtby. In his last six appearances, Grubauer has posted a 3-1-0 record with a 1.36 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage. Justin Williams had another good game, scoring a hat trick. NHL stats for the game can be found here: Individual player stats can be found here:
The Caps were whistled for the game’s first penalty when Justin Williams was called for slashing at 3:32 of the opening period. Braden Holtby made a nifty kick-save on the Rangers best chance of the man advantage, as the Caps limited the Rangers to only two shots on goal and no damages on the power play. 5-on-5 play was fairly even during the first ten minutes of the opening frame. The Rangers would get on the scoreboard first on a redirected goal by Chris Kreider at 10:17.
The Capitals would tie the game on a power-play wrister by Alex Ovechkin at 18:01 of the first period.
The first period would end in a 1-1 tie. the Rangers led in shots on goal, 13-8 for the first period.
The Rangers had the advantage in offensive pressure early in the middle period, as Braden Holtby made several nice stops to keep the game knotted at one. The Capitals would regain the lead on a sweet feed from Nicklas Backstrom to Marcus Johhansson for the finisher at 7:18, giving the Caps a 2-1 lead.
The Capitals would add another tally just one minute later on a shot by Taylor Chorney that was deflected in by Justin Williams, giving the Capitals a 3-1 lead. Time of the goal was at the 8:20 mark of the middle frame.
The Rangers would answer back on Chris Kreider’s second goal of the game at 17:28 of the second period.
Braden Holtby would take himself out of the game with 2:18 left in the second period. It was later reported that Holtby was suffering from dehydration. Philipp Grubauer replaced Holtby. The second period would end with the Caps leading 3-2. Rangers led in shots on goal 24-18 thru the first two periods.
Justin Williams would add an empty-netter for the hat trick, at the 18:09 mark of the final period.
The Capitals would lock it down from that point forward, sealing the 5-2 victory, their 12th straight at home.