TLDR: Nick Jensen makes his Capitals’ debut, Copley throws hands, Hagelin proves effectiveness on the penalty kill, Tom Wilson scores a power play goal, and Kuznetsov scores the overtime winner.
The Washington Capitals made their way back home, looking for matinee redemption after dropping yesterday’s game to the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2. The Caps won their first two meetings with the New York Rangers this season, the first having been a 4-3 overtime win at home, and then a 5-3 on the road. Newly acquired defenseman Nick Jensen made his debut as a member of the Washington Capitals, and the Caps, for the second time this season, topped the Rangers in overtime, 6-5.
It only took 21 seconds past puck drop for the Rangers to start the scoring. Due to a breakdown by the Caps’ defense, Chris Kreider sneakily tucked the puck past starting goaltender Pheonix Copley. Five minutes in, the Capitals got their first power play opportunity, thanks to a cross-checking penalty by Ranger Brady Skjei. Despite a number of good looks, the Caps were unable to score with the extra man. Both teams registered 7 shots in the first frame. Despite a slow and sluggish start, the game started to tilt in the Nick of time. With just over one minute left in the period, John Carlson made a beautifully deceptive pass across the ice, and Nicklas Backstrom scored his first goal in 12 games.
21 seconds later, Michal Kempny scored his 6th of the season, giving the Caps their first lead of the game. While the Rangers played a defensively sound game for the first 18 minutes, the Capitals exploded, just as quickly as Kreider scored the first goal of the game.
The Capitals would head into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.
The Capitals started off the second period on the penalty kill, as Dmitry Orlov landed himself in the penalty box for two-minutes due to hooking. The Caps penalty kill units successfully kept the Rangers off the board, and did not allow even a single shot. Shortly after killing off the penalty, the Caps were gifted their second power play of the day, with Lias Andersson going off for two-minutes for holding. This time, a perfect tic-tac-toe play in front of the net landed a power play goal, and gave Tom Wilson his 17th goal of the season.
Pictured: Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson
Rangers’ veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was less than pleased.
During the commercial break, the Rangers were hit with a too-many-men bench minor, and the Caps found themselves back on the power play, but did not score. Despite two missed calls by the referees (both against new acquisition Nick Jensen), the Capitals maintained control in the middle frame. Netminder Copley became increasingly more comfortable as the period progressed, and was not afraid to get involved in a scrap in front of the net after an additional poke by the Rangers after the whistle. Both teams received matching minors for the extra-curriculars, and Michal Kempny and Lias Andersson (again) went off to the box for two-minutes of four-on-four play. With four minutes remaining in the period, New York went back on the power play, due to a slashing penalty called against Lars Eller, and new penalty killers Hagelin and Jensen were put to the test once again. Another successful kill by the Caps, but a lazy shot by Connor Brickley towards the net cut the Rangers’ deficit to one goal. Capitals lead 3-2 heading into the 3rd period.
Heading into the third period, it took just 21 seconds for the Rangers to tie the score. Jimmy Vesey scored his 15th of the season, and what once seemed like a solid 3-1 lead by the Caps, dissipated right in front of their eyes. Washington quickly took back their two-goal lead, with Nic Dowd scoring his 6th of the season, and Nicklas Backstrom, 36 seconds later, scored his 2nd of the game. Carl Hagelin, called for hooking, sent the Capitals back to the penalty kill, and the Rangers scored their first power play goal, cutting the lead again to just one goal, 5-4. The goal would be Vladislav Namestnikov’s 8th of the season. Tempers flared, and again, both teams received matching penalties. For the Capitals, Tom Wilson received two-minutes for roughing and two more for unsportsmanlike conduct. Both Matt Niskanen (WSH) and Ryan Strome (NYR) received five-minute majors for fighting, and Strome and Tony DeAngelo received two minutes for roughing, so 5v5 play continued. But that’s not all, folks. With under four minutes left in regulation, Caps’ veteran Brooks Orpik got physical with Connor Brickley, but the Rangers received the man advantage. Despite holding off the Rangers during their power play, New York tied the game 5-5, with just 30 seconds left.
Fans on both sides were gifted with extra hockey, and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the game-winning overtime goal, giving the Caps a 6-5 victory at home.
FiCP’s Three Takeaways of the Game:
- Nicklas Backstrom marked his 24th career 2-goal game.
- Despite the overtime win, Pheonix Copley allowed too many soft goals.
- Nick Jensens’ speed and power made a great first impression.