The Washington Capitals beat the New York Rangers by a score of 6-3 at Madison Square Garden on Monday night to eliminate the Blueshirts from Stanley Cup Playoff contention. The win lifted the Capitals into a tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the East Division with a game in hand.
Goaltender Vitek Vanecek, who passed Jim Carey (1994-95) for the third-most wins by a rookie netminder in franchise history with his 19th (which also leads NHL rookie goalies), made 23 saves in the victory.
Capitals’ Lines at Rangers
Captain Alex Ovechkin, who missed the past four games with a lower-body injury, and defenseman John Carlson, who missed the past two with a lower-body injury, returned to the lineup. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov were scratched after the two were late to a team meeting on Monday. Forward T.J. Oshie missed the game due to a family manner. Defenseman Justin Schultz was out with a lower-body injury. The Capitals dressed 11 forwards and six defensemen.
Ovechkin left after playing just 39 seconds and did not return.
After getting a feed by forward Carl Hagelin from the defensive zone and with a Rangers defenseman behind him, center Nic Dowd went in and sniped one through the five-hole of Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin from the right dot to open the scoring for the Capitals 14:12 in. Dowd hit the double-digit goal-mark for the first time in his career.
Never a Dowd! 😎 pic.twitter.com/7NfyP0olXx— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 3, 2021
Forward Conor Sheary spun around and beat Shesterkin to the left post back door after forward Michael Raffl deflected forward Tom Wilson’s pass from the half-wall to Sheary, who made it 2-0 90 seconds later. The primary assist marked Raffl’s first point with the Capitals.
Bang bang another one! pic.twitter.com/1aVNy0QxmW
— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 3, 2021
Center Mika Zibanejad sniped a shot to the top right corner from the left dot after getting fed by forward Artemi Panarin from the slot to cut the Capitals’ lead in half with two minutes left.
The Capitals led 15-10 in shots, 5-4 in hits, and won 67% of the draws through 20 minutes.
The Rangers led 1-0 in blocked shots, 4-2 in takeaways, and had two giveaways while the Capitals had four after one.
Each team failed to score on one power play in the period.
Zibanejad ripped one to the top left corner from the slot to finish a tic-tac-toe passing play with center Ryan Strome and Panarin to tie it on the power play 2:30 into the period.
Forward Kaapo Kakko curled and potted one into a wide open net after forward Alexis Lafreniere curled, put the puck around Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara, and fed Kakko on the backhand to the back door to give the Rangers the lead at 4:35.
After Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich tried to poke the puck past Vanecek, a scrum broke loose in front of the Capitals’ net while the Rangers were on a power play at 7:40.
Tom Wilson gets a 10-minute misconduct for punching Buchnevich in the head on the ground and body slamming Panarin pic.twitter.com/fg2HRej8yD— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 4, 2021
Forward Garnet Hathaway poked home the puck from in front with Shesterkin down after Dowd was robbed twice on the doorstep to tie it with 90 seconds left. Hathaway tied his point total from 2019-20 in 14 fewer games (16). Dowd earned his seventh career multi-point game, including second of the season.
What is luvvvvvvvv pic.twitter.com/Pcrjsb4qWE— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 4, 2021
The Capitals led 26-21 in shots, 14-8 in hits, had five giveaways while the Rangers had six, won 58% of the draws, and failed to score on a power play through 40 minutes.
The Rangers led 5-3 in takeaways, 3-2 in blocked shots, and scored once on four man advantages in the first two periods.
Each team posted 11 second-period shots.
After defenseman Brendan Smith turned the puck over in front of Shesterkin, forward Daniel Sprong took the puck right in front and wide before putting it into a wide-open net to give the Capitals a 4-3 lead 4:37 into the third.
HOT STICK pic.twitter.com/pbRUuFXkI6— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 4, 2021
After getting a feed from Raffl from the half-wall, center Nicklas Backstrom went in all alone on a breakaway, deked, and went top corner on Shesterkin to extend the lead to 5-3 with 8:19 to go.
Oh Nicky you’re so fine you’re so fine you blow my mind hey Nicky pic.twitter.com/UdZPVu5ITv— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 4, 2021
Forward Tom Wilson potted an empty netter from the slot to make it 6-3 with 1:26 left.
The Capitals led 40-26 in shots, including 14-5 in the third, 20-16 in hits, had eight giveaways while the Rangers had 10, won 53% of the draws, and failed to score on a power play.
The Rangers led 6-4 in takeaways, 8-7 in blocked shots, and scored once on four man advantages.
With the road win, the Capitals recorded their league-leading 18th of the season. The team has won three straight away from Capital One Arena.
Dowd skated a career-high 21:25 against the Rangers. Dowd entered tonight’s game logging 14:18 time on ice per game played this season, which is nearly two minutes more than his previous career high (2016-17: 12:27).— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) May 4, 2021
The Capitals will square off with the Rangers in the Big Apple again on Wednesday night. Action from Madison Square Garden will start at 7 PM ET on NBC Sports Washington locally or NBCSN nationally.
By Harrison Brown