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Recap: Regular Season Ends Irregularly for Caps as Rangers Prevail, 4-2

The Washington Capitals wrapped up their 2014-2015 regular season as they opened it, with a loss. It will be soon forgotten, though, as the Caps prepare for the games that matter, starting next week.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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The Washington Capitals spotted the New York Rangers a 3-0 lead before the game was 23 minutes old.  It was an odd collection of goals - a backhand swat out of mid-air from in tight by Kevin Hayes, a dart through a maze of bodies by Derick Brassard, and a backhand from Dominic Moore that might have done Sidney Crosby proud.  The Caps fought back to make a game of it in the second period and got a power play goal from Alex Ovechkin.  It was not enough, though, as the Caps yielded an empty netter late and got a later goal from Stanislav Galiev (his first career NHL goal) in dropping the season series to the Rangers, losing on Fan Appreciation Day, 4-2.

Here is Saturday afternoon's Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: Stan Galiev recorded his first NHL goal.  No matter the circumstances, it is always one to remember, especially against a world-class goaltender like Henrik Lundqvist.
  • Minus: The first period. The 20 minutes were played using the Rangers’ script. Possession? Meh… The Caps held a 15-12 edge in shot attempts at 5-on-5. Washington had six scoring chances to the Rangers four. They had five offensive zone starts to the Rangers’ two. The Caps had 11 faceoff wins to the Rangers’ five. But while the Rangers have not an especially impressive possession team over most of the season, there was the inconvenient truth of the scoreboard, which read, "Rangers 2 – Caps 0." A whack out of mid-air by Kevin Hayes and a shot from beyond the three-point arc by Derick Brassard through a maze of bodies, and it was the Rangers with the advantage. Not that this was unusual. Fast first period starts is what the Rangers do.

Ten more notes on the game...

  • Alex Ovechkin recorded his 53rd goal of the season.  It is the sixth time since the 2005-2006 lockout that a player recorded 53 or more goals.  Ovechkin has half of them.  Steven Stamkos (60 in 2011-2012), Jonathan Cheechoo (56 in 2005-2006), and Jaromir Jagr (54 in 2005-2006) are the others.
  • Ovechkin became just the third player since the 2005-2006 lockout to record 25 power play goals in a season when he one-timed the puck past Henrik Lundqvist in the second period (Ilya Kovalchuk and Teemu Selanne are the others).  If only Ovechkin's power play goals counted, he would rank 75th in total goals since he came into the league (176).
  • The Caps were credited with 36 hits in this game.  Every skater had at least one except for Mike Green and John Carlson.
  • Stan Galiev was the 21st player to record a goal for the Capitals this season.  Eight skaters finished without a goal for the Caps, Brooks Orpik and Michael Latta the only ones having played in at least half of the team's games.
  • Ovechkin had only two shots on goal for the game, the fewest he had in a home game since he was held to a single shot in a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on December 2nd.
  • John Carlson led the Caps with three blocked shots in the game, but it was the two blocked shots by Brooks Laich on a Ranger power play that left him hobbling and offering evidence that this was not entirely a meaningless Game 82.
  • Tim Gleason had a rather eventful afternoon.  Two minor penalties, a fighting major, five hits, a takeaway, and a blocked shot in 16 minutes and change.
  • The Caps lost four times in their last 13 games of the regular season, and in all of them they fell behind by a 3-0 score.
  • This was a game in which the usual ice time management rules went out the window.  John Carlson, who averaged more than 18 minutes of even strength ice time this season, skated only 15:01.  Brooks Orpik, who averaged almost 19 minutes of even strength ice time, skated just 14:40.  Matt Niskanen was the only Capital to skate more than 20 even strength minutes (20:35).
  • The Caps led the Rangers in 5-on-5 scoring chances for the game, 20-13.  But individually, the leaders were Andre Burakovsky and Jason Chimera with three apiece.  Niskanen, Latta, Galiev, and Marcus Johansson had two apiece.  Sometimes it's not the "how many" as much as it is the "who."

And now, this...

And congrats to you, Stan Galiev...

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