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Usually, a few days off this time of year gives a hockey team a chance to get healthy. For the Caps, however... not so much, as Mike Green and Brooks Orpik - both of whom played in the team's last game Saturday night - were unable to go when the Rangers came calling for Wednesday's "Rivalry Night." New York, for its part, has been playing some of the best hockey in the League for a half-season or so, but did battle with the first-place Islanders last night, so the depleted-but-rested Caps got a chance to face a surging-but-tired club (that keeps winning, despite being without all-everything netminder Henrik Lundqvist). And with three of their remaining 15 games against the Rangers - and then a potential first-round match-up looming thereafter - this was certainly one of those "measuring stick" games for the Caps.
Unfortunately, the Caps couldn't match-up, as Cam Talbot held off third-period pressure and a bad John Carlson turnover sealed their fate, giving the Rangers a 3-1 win and two big points.
Here's Wednesday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: The offense... in the third period. Down a goal entering the frame, the Caps had a 35-10 advantage in shot attempts (and 16-7 in shots on goal) in the third, all at even-strength save for a couple of minutes of six-on-five time. It was both too little and too late.
- Minus: The offense... for the first two periods. The Caps registered just nine even-strength shots on goal through the first two periods (and added just three in 4:25 of power-play time, which included 1:18 of a fruitless five-on-three). And it wasn't only a depth issue, either - neither Alex Ovechkin (who scored the Caps' goal on the power play) nor Nicklas Backstrom had an even-strength shot on goal through forty minutes, and the duo was only on the ice for two five-on-five shot attempts. The third period was much, much better, but twenty minutes of good hockey is rarely going to be enough against a top team.
And now, this...