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Capital Punishment

We’ve all heard the saying “patience is a virtue.” At Madison Square Garden on Sunday night, nothing was truer when it came to the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. Caps goalie Braden Holtby kept New York off the scoreboard despite facing a 20-shot barrage in the 1st period. But the Rangers persisted, and went home with a 2-1 victory on Hockey Day in America.

While the Rangers had the itchy trigger finger in the 1st period, it would be the Capitals who scored the lone goal of the frame. The Caps wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, courtesy of a John Carlson slap shot (assisted by Mike Ribeiro and Eric Fehr) at 1:19 of the opening period. Washington managed only 8 shots on Henrik Lundqvist in the 1st period, but the Rangers attacks on the Caps crease never ceased. Holtby, who frustrated the Bruins in the 1st round of last year’s playoffs and almost back-stopped the Capitals past the Rangers in the 2nd round, made multiple quality saves to keep the Blueshirts off the scoreboard heading in to the 1st intermission.

One of Braden Holtby’s 38 saves
One of Braden Holtby’s 38 saves on the evening. Saves like this prevented it from becoming a blow-out
(Bruce Bennett – Getty Images)

The Rangers have often been accused (and rightfully so) of not playing complete games this season. That wasn’t the case tonight. The Rangers fired another 14 shots on Holtby in the 2nd period to follow up the strong 1st period. At 7:39 of the period, the Rangers finally put one by Holtby on a Carl Hagelin redirect off a Ryan McDonagh slap shot. The Rangers frantic shooting pace cooled down in the 3rd period. Only six shots were taken, but one of them gave New York a two-goal cushion on the power play. Rangers Defenseman Michael Del Zotto found Derek Stepan right on the doorstep to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead. A Rick Nash tripping penalty at 13:04 gave the Capitals a chance to get back in the game, but the Rangers Penalty Kill and Henrik Lundqvist stood tall. Holtby finished the night with 38 saves, while Lundqvist turned away 27 shots in victory.

The Rangers win ended Washington’s three game winning streak. The Rangers earned their 9th point in their last five games. In that five game span, the Rangers are a perfect 16 for 16 on the penalty kill, and have gone 3 for 18 on the power play. Converting on one out of every six opportunities isn’t something to write home about normally, but considering how anemic the Rangers power play has been to start the year, this is a step in the right direction. They went 1 for 5 against the Caps tonight, but the power play had more life to it than usual. They were 1 for 8 on power play shots, and had some success moving the puck around and keeping the Caps PK unit spread out. New York is 8-3-1 since losing their two opening games. If their power play can get going and have just an average amount of success, the Rangers could speed their climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Capital Punishment
The Rangers celebrate Derek Stepan’s power play goal early in the 3rd period. It would be the eventual game-winner
(Bruce Bennett – Getty Images)

Plus – Rangers C JT Miller – Despite a bad slashing penalty in the 2nd period, Miller played strong throughout the game in his 13:52 of ice time. He saw 2:43 on the power play, and played quality minutes down the stretch to help preserve the lead. It appears that he’s gaining more confidence with John Tortorella with each passing game.

Minus – Rangers C Darroll Powe – The recent acquisition’s night was cut short due to a mid-ice collision with Washington’s Matt Hendricks in the 2nd period. From the looks of the impact and how he looked after he was helped off the ice, the Rangers could be without one of their better shot-blockers for some time.

Adam Bernard
I'm a seasoned veteran in the sports media field and a lifelong Rangers fan (hoping to relive 1994 at some point - I couldn't fully appreciate a championship at 11 years old). Hockey dominates my life for the most part: I also root for the Blackhawks & Kings, I've been lucky enough to split season tickets for the Blueshirts with a good friend since the lockout, and I'm a defenseman on a local roller hockey team. Away from the rink, I enjoy hiking, hard rock music, and spending time with my dog Astro.
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