Red vs. Blue. The story of our nation. The story of our primary colors. And tonight, the story of Capitals vs. Rangers.
Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: The Captain Manimal Himself Alex Ovechkin scored two (2) goals, and continues to be an ephemeral force of light.
Minus: The Caps took a lot of penalties in this contest, and New York made them pay, cashing in twice on the man-advantage.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. After losing back-to-back contests to the New Jersey Devils (6-0) on Thursday and the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-2) on Saturday, would the boys in red bounce back on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena against hated, azure-shirted division foes the New York Rangers?
2. Back in the lineup tonight for the Caps was Australian wunderwallaby Nathan Walker, slotting back into the fourth line left wing role in place of Dmitrij Jaskin, newly-arrived winger from St. Louis and, for tonight, a healthy scratch.
3. New York came out swinging first in this contest. Neal Pionk went streaking down the wing and found a crashing Mika Zibanejad in the slot who double-tapped, stuffing home his own rebound off of Braden Holtby’s pads to make this one 1-0 Rangers six minutes into the game.
4. Just minutes later, Capitals defenseman Christian Djoos did everything he possibly, humanly could to keep the score that close, making a diving save at the goal line to tell the puck, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” and keep it at 1-0.
5. With six minutes remaining in the first frame, Captain America John Carlson decided to let freedom ring from above the right circle, firing home a cruise missile to tie this one at 1-1 after twenty minutes.
Carlson told the media after the game, “I think we’re getting to the areas we like to get to. It seems like we’ve played against all good goaltenders [this year], but we expect more from ourselves, and at 5-on-5 we know we need to pick that part of game up. At the end of the day, I like to see us get chances versus not.”
6. The Capitals jumped out faster in the second frame. With Washington on the power play after New York’s Brett Howden committed a no-no boo-boo, Alex Ovechkin rang the bell from just above his normal workspace, snapping home a bullet from above the circle to make it 2-1 Caps.
7. But later in the same frame, this time with Washington on the penalty kill with Dmitry Orlov in the box for holding, New York’s Jimmy Vesey collected a serendipitous deflection in front of Holtby, tapping it in to knot it 2-2 after two periods.
8. The Capitals came out at a similar clip in the third. This time with Jesper “Not So” Fast in the penalty box for the Blueshirts, the Captain Alex Ovechkin blasted his second howitzer of the evening from his circular cubicle, making it 3-2 Caps.
“Tonight we had very good looks. Obviously everybody knows Hank’s a tough goalie, you know, ‘The King,’ he’s gonna save it,” Ovechkin told the media in the locker room after the game. “When we play like that, it’s fun to play like that to be honest with you.”
I asked Ovechkin how badly he wanted a third goal after scoring a second. He told me, with a smile, “If I get it it would be nice, but, you know....next time.”
He added, I assume with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, “It’s all about luck.”
9. BUT THE THEATRICS WEREN’T DONE! This time, this with Nathan Walker in the box, New York’s Chris Kreider redirected a BB down and past Holtby to tie this one up AGAIN late in the game at 3-3!
10. With that, the fans at Capital One Arena were treated to some free hockey, courtesy of OVERTIME!
And in the extra stanza, Matt Niskanen followed up a Kuznetsovian effort by slinging the rubber disc into the gaping maw of the net and past a sprawling Henrik Lundqvist.
I asked Frisky Nisky what he was thinking as he saw that wide open net staring him down with a chance to send his team home winners.
He told me, quite simply, “Don’t screw it up.”
Next up is the Florida Panthers here in Washington on Friday.