The Capitals looked to continue their strong play and add to their winning streak which sat at three games before the puck dropped at Madison Square Garden in New York City, on Hockey Day In America.
The puck dropped at 6pm and the Caps got off to a great start. Just 1:19 into the game, a struggling John Carlson put the Caps on the board. It might also be important to note that Mike Ribeiro got his 400th career assist on John Carlson's blast over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist from the point. From then on it was pretty much all downhill for Washington. The Caps ended up getting outshot 20-8 by the Rangers after the first period. It was Braden Holtby's phenomenal play that kept the Caps to a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. Some of those Holtby saves were highlight reel saves.
7:39 into the 2nd period, while Holtby continued to stand on his head, the Rangers tied the game at 1 thanks to a Carl Hagelin tip in. Holtby got no help from Tom Poti on the play as he failed to clear out Hagelin who stood slightly to Holtby's left and tipped in a shot from Ryan McDonough from the point off his shin pad. After 40 minutes of play, it was 1-1 but the Caps were outshot 14-9 in the 2nd period and doubled up during the first periods 34-17. The Caps power play was nothing to speak highly of either as they went 0/3 through two periods.
4:25 into the 3rd period the Caps took more unnecessary penalties (what's new) and the worst power play in the NHL played a quick tick-tack-toe that ended in Derek Stepan's 3rd goal of the year. The Rangers grabbed a 2-1 lead and that's how the rest of the 15:35 of the game played out on the scoreboard. The Caps had a great opportunity to tie the game when Rick Nash tripped up John Erskine but a fourth power play opportunity came up empty.
The Caps wasted a great opportunity to climb within two points of the eighth place Rangers and more importantly a playoff spot while continuing to add to their win streak. The wasted opportunity can be attributed to a Capitals team that continues to struggle staying away from taking dumb penalties. The Rangers had five power plays during the game that included a Troy Brouwer hit from behind that was completely avoidable and a Jeff Schultz hook that could have been avoided as well. The Caps defense also has not improved clearing out opposing players from the slot to protect Holtby. The 2nd period goal by the Rangers' Carl Hagelin would have never happened if Poti had done his job in clearing him out from the slot.
The Caps could have climbed within two points of the eighth place Rangers and now they are six points behind the Southeast Division leading Carolina Hurricanes who have also played two less games then the Caps. Washington is now back in the basement of the Eastern Conference with 11 points and tied with Winnipeg (Jets have played one less game as well) and thanks to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Caps are 29th in the NHL. All was not lost on the Caps Hockey Day In America showcase as Adam Oates was the best dressed coach on any bench tonight.
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Until Next Time,