Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Beating the Rangers. Beating the Rangers. Beating the Rangers.
Minus: Matt Niskanen went down in the corner hard in the second period, and would return, but only after being checked out in the locker room.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Just two days ago in New York City, the Capitals defeated these same Rangers 4-2. With back-to-back smackdowns on national TV, would the Rangers strike back in defense of their honor, like the noble-but-misunderstood Empire?
2. Further complicating matters of honor, the New York Rangers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention earlier today. Which team would show up in Washington: some downtrodden coulda-woulda-shouldacudas, or a bunch of vicious Ralph Nader’s looking to play spoiler?
3. On the roster front, some interesting new faces for the Capitals hit the ice! Rookie Shane Gersich, recently signed out of the University of North Dakota, made his NHL debut, and played like a rabid, insatiable stud. More on him later. Also starting was goalie Braden Holtby, backed up by Pheonix Copley, Man With Confusing Vowels, while German ubertender Philipp Grubauer continues to nurse a lower-body “tweak.”
4. The Rangers jumped all over the Capitals early on this contest, dropping 18 bombs on Holtby in the first 20 minutes alone. Twelve minutes into the frame, it appeared that Braden Holtby had made a Copperfieldian stop on a loose trickling puck at the goal line. But when play was stopped, that mean, nasty spectre known as VIDEO REVIEW snorted and farted its way into the affair, and further examination revealed the puck had, in fact, crossed the goal line. The tricky trickler was awarded to Kevin Hayes, and gave New York a 1-0 lead.
5. But moments later, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Harry Potted the Puck, raced in towards the net on a breakaway. A diving, flailing Rangers defenseman could only slash Kuzy in his injured arm to prevent the shot. Kuznetsov was awarded a penalty shot, and skated over to the bench doubled over in pain before taking it. Henrik Lundqvist eventually made the save, and Kuznetsov played the rest of the game, but a strange sequence of events in Capsland.
6. With just 32 seconds left in the first period, the Caps’ second line of Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie, and Nicklas Backstrom roared into the zone. A gorgeous tic-tac temptation from Oshie to Backstrom found its way across to Burakovsky, and Bura blasted home a Swedish fish from the right circle to tie the game at 1-1 and notch his 10th goal of the year.
7. The Capitals carried that youthful, handsome momentum into the second period, returning New York’s favor from the first period by rifling 13 shots on net. But none of them broke through, and this one, like a rope across a volcano, remained tied but tense.
8. The stalemate held until halfway through the final period, when Ryan “Little” Spooner roared down the right wing and fired a shooter’s shot that beat Holtby honest and clean, lifting the Rangers to a 2-1 lead.
9. BUT WITH HOLTBY PULLED AND THE EXTRA ATTACKER ON, Lars Eller, AKA The Lartian, crashed the net and tapped in a cross-crease set-up that knotted this one at 2-2 and sent the game to....OVERTIME!
10. And in the free frame, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Russian assassin, flew down the left wing, saw he had a man he could pass to at the other circle, and instead shot that son of a gun right into the back of the net, and sent the Capitals home 3-2 winners!
After the game, Kuznetsov joked, "I don't know what happened with me, I decided to shoot!", as reported by Mike Vogel.
The Capitals’ magic playoff number ticks down to just ONE. Shane Gersich was fantastic, by the way, creating havoc, jumping into plays, and while a little rough around the edges, showed he has a bright future here in Washington. Good game, boys!