The Washington Capitals came home to greet the New York Rangers for a 5pm puck drop at Verizon Center. Mike Richards made his home debut as a Washington Capital centering for Brooks Laich and Stanislav Galiev. Michael Latta and Zach Sill were healthy scratches.
Richards was phenomenal tonight and is starting to mesh with the team—he had two shots and two minutes in the sin bin.
First Period: It’s Not the Start, It’s the Finish.
The Capitals and Rangers started out hitting and moving. Justin Williams knocked the stick out of the hands of Ranger captain Ryan McDonagh. There is a saying that the goalie is the best player on a penalty kill. This was especially true during the Capitals’ first penalty kill of the game for Braden Holtby.
Marcus Johansson lost a faceoff and Ranger Chris Kreider deflects a McDonagh shot. Capitals trailed 1-0.
Derick Brassard held Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stick and the Capitals go on their second power play…and Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 27th of the season and ninth straight goal-scoring game against the Rangers. Fellow Russians Kuznetsov and defenseman Dmitry Orlov collected the assists on Ovechkin’s goal.
End of the first, Capitals and Rangers tied 1-1.
Second Period: Swede Points
The second period was much better for the Capitals. The Rangers continued their penalty trouble and the Capitals capitalized.
Dylan McIIrath took a slashing penalty and the Capital Swedes Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson connected for Johansson’s 12th goal of the season.
A few minutes later, Justin Williams tipped-in a Taylor Chorney shot to build the lead to 3-1. Andre Burakovsky got the secondary assist on Williams’ 14th of the season so all three Swedes collected a point in the period.
Ranger Chris Kreider ruined the fun with his second of the night. Capitals keep the lead 3-2 with less than four minutes to go in the period. And with that goal, the boisterous Rangers fans became rather quiet…
Goaltender Braden Holtby took himself out of the game with two minutes left in the second period, reportedly for dehydration—a common problem for the goaltender. Philipp Grubauer came in for the relief.
Third Period: Justin Williams’Hat Trick!
Justin Williams tipped-in another shot this time by Evgeny Kuznetsov for his second of the night and 15th of the season. It was a great set up by Andre Burakovsky for his third multi-point game in the last four games.
Before the period was over, Williams took advantage of the empty net for his third goal of the night. This was the second career hat trick for Justin Williams.
The Rangers (and their fans) thought they scored with 54.2 seconds left but it was overturned for offsides. The Capitals end the game victorious, 5-2, over the Blueshirts of New York.
Thanks to two amazing goalies the Caps keep bouncing back and have a firm lead Division, Conference, and the NHL. Get well Braden, there is no one quite like you!
With 12 consecutive home wins for the guys Rocking the Red, they are one shy of a franchise record. The Capitals are the only team to not have two consecutive regulation losses yet this season. We are still waiting to hear when John Carlson and Brooks Orpik will rejoin the team.
Day off on Monday.
Morning skate Tuesday at 11:30 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night at 7pm at Nationwide Arena.
Written by Renee Garces
Photos by Brittney Marcum