The Ottawa Senators ended the New York Rangers four-game winning streak on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The four consecutive wins was the longest streak of victories for the Blueshirts this season. On Sunday afternoon, the Rangers got back to their winning ways by a score of 4-1 over the Washington Capitals to open up their week-long road trip.
It looked like the Rangers losing ways were going to continue very early in the game. Just 2:16 in to the opening frame, rookie defenseman Steve Oleksy blasted a shot from the point to give the Caps an early 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for the 18,506 at the Verizon Center, that would be the last thing they had to cheer for. Rangers Goalie Martin Biron (2-1-1) got the rare start in net for the Sunday matinee. After letting in the early goal, the back-up netminder made some tough saves, and finished the game with 28 saves.
The Rangers first goal came midway through the first period. Center Derek Stepan drove wide throught he Capitals zone, and got off a backhand flick of the puck at Braden Holtby from the side of the net to tie the game at one (assists to Marian Gaborik & Ryan McDonagh). For Stepan, it was his third goal and seventh point in the last 6 games.
The Rangers second goal came midway through the second period from Brian Boyle. It’s been a tough season for the Rangers center. After being a healthy scratch on Friday night, a Boyle forecheck led to the Rangers eventual game-winner. After passing the puck to McDonagh, Boyle got the puck back and fired a shot by Holtby to put the Rangers ahead for good (assists to McDonagh & Carl Hagelin). The goal came on a delayed penalty call on Washington LW Alexander Ovechkin. Ovie was called for two penalties on the same play, so the Rangers would receive an additional power play. Just 41 seconds later, Rick Nash took a hard shot from the sideboards, and it slightly deflected off of Ryan Callahan to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead (Michael Del Zotto also received and assist on the goal). Other than a Brad Richards goal (assisted by Hagelin & Nash) late in the frame, it was an uneventful third period.
There’s a lot of positives to take away from this game. First, you have to feel good for Boyle. He hasn’t had a great season, but getting his first goal is a huge weight off of his back. Secondly, the Rangers top line put in another productive effort. Nash and Hagelin each had two assists, and Richards scored a goal in his second-straight game since returning from the Patrick Kaleta boarding incident last Sunday. It was the 5th time in their last six games that they recorded a power play goal (6 for 19 / 31.5%), and they’ve won all five of those games. This was the first of a four-game road trip for the Blueshirts. With their next games against 14th place Buffalo and 9th place Winnipeg, the Rangers have a real opportunity to gain some points and claw their way back up through the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division.