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Capitals vs Rangers Recap: Ovi and Chimmer Score Twice, Earn a Huge Two Points

The Eastern Conference playoff picture tightening up, the Caps took the ice and two big points from a team they're plenty used to seeing when the weather gets warm.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

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As playoffs become visible on the horizon, and with the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins both a substantial threat to the Capitals' playoff aspiration, and having failed to earn standings points in two of their last three outings, the Capitals skated onto a sheet of ice that hasn't been kind to them in recent years, against the team that's showed them the exit during their last two playoff appearances. The good guys brought home two tough points, and can now regroup to try to do the same on Tuesday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

Check back for our full recap later, but first, here's Sunday night's Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: Alex Ovechkin. Ovi got the monkey off his back with a 5v5 goal in the first period, then got the powerplay off the schnide with, well, a power play goal. If this team expects to make any sort of spirited run, their strengths need to be as such, and this afternoon Ovechkin made sure that the channels from which the Capitals are used to seeing production, produced.
  • Minus: Lazy play, lack of discipline, quick-in-succession goals against, end-of-period goals...is there any word that sums all those up? How about carelessness? No, let's go with slipshod. Slidshod play reinforced by superstar performances from Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin is just putting makeup on a Milbury. This team has got to ice some more collective contributions (and if you want an image of what that looks like, take a peek at the third period).

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

  • One of Braden Holtby's favorite philosophies is "it's okay to have one bad game. It's not okay to have two bad games". He lived up to that standard tonight, making several phenomenal saves in the early going to keep the Caps in it early, and then after allowing two late goals in the first period (neither of which were really on him), he stood strong the rest of the way. Here's to you, Holts.
  • Having scored only seven even strength goals in their last six outings, Barry Trotz determined that it was time to shake things up. The most notable product of this shakeup? Bumping Evgeny Kuznetsov and Joel Ward up to play with Alex Ovechkin, and knocking Nicklas Backstrom down to pivot Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer. You can't imagine this iteration of the Caps' lineup has much staying power, but for one day they pieced together a big win (both on the scoreboard and on the possession slate— though the Ovi/Kuz/Ward line was brutal in this regard) against a great opponent.
  • It'd been three games since the world was last blessed with a goal scored by Alex Ovechkin. Before this one was five minutes old, Ovechkin took a feed from new linemate Joel Ward, executed his patented swivel to the high slot, and rifled a wrister past Cam Talbot for goal number 48.
  • The secondary assist on that marker came from John Carlson, who continued this season's trend of generating offense from the blueline, and his personal trend of generating more offense than he ever has in his career. It was Carlson's 37th assist of the season— 10 more than his previous career best. Granted, Carlson promptly undid any good he created with a completely inexcusable mishandling of the puck in his own end that led to an easy Kevin Hayes layup the get the Rags on the board.
  • The Rags weren't done. With a little help from the Keystone Caps, with Matt Niskanen and Joel Ward colliding in their own end, Derick Brassard roofed an odd-man rush one-timer with the first intermission 49 seconds away. That's twice in their last three games that the Caps have allowed a goal in the final minute of a period, which is definitely a really great habit to begin forming.
  • Brooks Orpik had a wonderful opportunity to notch his first goal of the season about halfway through the second period. Instead, Cam Talbot made a relative easy glove save. It was Brooks Orpik's 60th shot of the season. There are only two players in the NHL, Dan Hamhuis and Eric Gryba, who have shot more without scoring the season. Uh, keep firing 'em, Brooks.
  • The Caps came into this one having failed to score on their last 11 powerplays. The Rangers killed off the first, and the Caps ended their second chance prematurely with a penalty. Then, on a shortened power play, Ovechkin wound up and fired another one past Talbot (with a little help from Dan Boyle) to get the Caps off the schnide.
  • Coming into this one, the Rangers had only received one power play in their previous three games. They were the first team to suffer that kind of lack of opportunity since the Columbus Blue Jackets back in October 2008 (Elias). They experienced no such shortage tonight, having already gone a man up 5 times before the second period was over. And they stood tall each time. Just a huge performance from the penalty killers today.
  • How about Jason Chimera, increasing his season goal total by 40% in a span of three minutes in the third period, and more importantly giving the Caps' the lead, and then some breathing room, to pick up two much needed points, and at a time when secondary scoring has been hard to come by. Hey, never bet against Jason Chimera on MSG ice.
  • They've gotta win their own games, but Brooks Orpik recently told reporters that if his teammates claimed to not be looking up at the scoreboard during breaks, they were lying. At the conclusion of the Caps game tonight, Boston had the jump on the Hurricanes, 1-0, and the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers were deadlocked. Go Canes. Go Panthers.
  • Game highlights: