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Capitals vs Rangers Recap: Vanecek’s Strong Game and Two Late Ovechkin Goals Give Caps 2-1 Win

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The Caps take the first of two in the weekend set and their first against the Rangers this season

NHL: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Going for their seventh-straight win tonight and standing in their way were the New York Rangers, a team that has been a Capitals Achilles’ heel lately, with just one win for the Capitals in their last five games against New York. With the Rangers were coming off a strong 9-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers, the question was will the Rangers gain so much confidence from that win that they would just run over the Capitals or would they let the win get into their heads and the Capitals could take advantage? Well it was neither really, the Rangers were the better team but due to Vitek Vancek’s stellar play and Alexander Ovechkin’s stick, they won 2-1.

Minus: It was a pretty messy game by the Capitals, especially their passing. Even when they weren’t being pressured they were sending passes a foot in front or behind their targets, which led to a lot of blue line turnovers and Ranger chances.

Plus: Vanecek was fantastic. He stopped 32 of 33, some of the high end, ten bell saves. Without him the Capitals would have been buried.

Some other notes:

  • The Rangers didn’t get a shot on goal (though a handful of good chance misses) until almost the 10-minute mark into the first period and it was a point blank slapper that Vitek Vanecek shut down. Great job by Vanecek to keep his focus after not facing shots for so long then having to stop a shot like that. Probably less than a minute later Vanecek faced his second shot and it was another point blank 2-on-1 and he saved it. In fact his third shot was also a pretty dangerous shot as well and he stopped it. He was hot to start.
  • Orlov absolutely blew up a Ranger with a great hit. He was one of the few skaters that had a really strong game for the Capitals.
  • Nicklas Backstrom took a defensive zone penalty that was weak but the Capitals weren’t playing well up to that point so they deserved it. The Rangers had the 27th ranked powerplay so of course they scored because that’s just what happens. Vanecek almost made an amazing stretch save that he got the tip of his blocker on but wasn’t able to get all of it.
  • The Capitals trailed 0-1 going into the first. Their first 10 minutes were pretty good but the last 10 minutes were ugly with lots of bad defensive zone passing.
  • Um... nothing really happened in the second period. Chara got a partial breakaways, which was wild. But outside that the Capitals didn’t create much offensively. Luckily, the Rangers weren’t able to extend their lead.
  • The Rangers drew a penalty 30 seconds into the third period. Vanecek came up big with some good saves to keep his team in it. He was easily the Capitals best player of the night.
  • The Capitals came up with a huge penalty kill with about seven minutes left in the game and the shift right after the Capitals scored. Ovechkin had a tap in goal after the puck bounced around the blue paint. It was his fifth straight game with a goal.
  • Then, in literally the exact same play, with 3:30 minutes left, Ovechkin slapped a backhand goal in the blue paint. Same shot from the right circle, same rebound for an Ovechkin goal.

Overall it wasn’t a particularly interesting game until it was, and thankfully, the Capitals were able to pull out a win. They can’t play like that again tomorrow night, though, and expect the same outcome. Tomorrow will require more focus, better passing and getting the puck up the ice. They’ll have the services of Tom Wilson again, as his suspension comes to an end, which should be a huge energy boost for the Capitals (and hopefully Lars Eller is able to return from injury as well).