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Washington entered tonight’s contest, the second of two in a row against the New York Rangers winners of seven straight, and having claimed points in thirteen of their last fourteen outings. After a strong comeback led by two third-period goals from Alex Ovechkin an evening ago, Washington fell by a score of 3-1 after allowing a late goal in the third to bring the winning streak to an end.
Here’s Saturday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Mazel tov Evgeny!
Feels like the first game was only yesterday.— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 20, 2021
Congrats on 500, @Kuzya92! #ALLCAPS | @LeidosInc pic.twitter.com/M6V6EuDHmr
Minus: Washington is now 0-for-16 on the power play in five games vs. the Rangers this season.
and now this...:
what if we kissed during the mcnugget minute pic.twitter.com/3qXlCNOIdp— noah hockey stick emoji (@capsboybebop) March 20, 2021
Ten more notes on the game:
- Washington earned a powerplay in the game’s first moments but only was able to muster two shots on Keith Kinkaid, filling in for Igor Shesterkin who was rumored to be slated to return in tonight’s contest. Tom Wilson was welcomed back with a two-minute slashing penalty, but the penalty-killing unit withstood a four-shot man-up effort by New York to keep the contest scoreless. The Caps would earn another man advantage as a hard work effort by Brendan Dillion drew a holding call on Artemi Panarin, but the good guys were unable to register a shot in that effort.
- With 2:11 left in the first, the Rangers took0advantage of an offensive zone faceoff and tallied the first goal of the contest off a set play resulting in Pavel Buchnevich tallying his 11th goal of the season to give New York the one-goal lead. Buchnevich, who was held off the scoresheet a night ago, now has goals in eight of his nine games against Washington.
- Washington headed to the first intermission down the scoresheet despite out-shooting the Rangers 10-7, and out hitting them 12-3. It was a physical and evenly-matched first period. Entering tonight, Washington has allowed just one or fewer goals within the first two periods of the game in 13 of their 31 games, each of their last three games, and in six of their last seven games.
- As indicated in the “and now this above” tonight was Evgeny Kuznetzov’s 500th career game. A nice milestone for the 8th year winger who has always been the subject of THE MOST hot takes in Caps circles has 402 points in the NHL courtesy of 123 points and 279 assists. In an interesting twist, it was also the 500th career contest for two other players in tonight’s competition: Richard Panik and Jacob Trouba.
- Under two minutes into the second period. Carl Hagelin was tagged with a minor penalty for interference, but Washington’s penalty kill held serve and kept it a 1-0 game. The Caps began to up the tempo and drive play into the offensive end. An unsettled situation off a faceoff found a Wilson wrister ricocheting off the netminder to a cutting John Carlson in the low slot to deposit the puck into the back of the net to bring the contest even. The goal was his seventh of the year and accounted for his 27th point of the campaign, which places him fourth among NHL d-men.
work, work, work, work@budlight | #BudLightCelly pic.twitter.com/o4zUrrpAn5— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 21, 2021
6. Through the first two periods, Washington had out-shot New York 17-15 and continued to display more physicality with 21 blocked shots to the Rangers’ six, not to mention the Caps’ 12 blocked shots as opposed to just six for the visitors.
7. Not even remotely related to this game, BUT there’s something I’m excited to talk about (and have some time to put digital ink to paper in the intermission.) The Capitals organization made a move this week that I feel obligated to mention, and that was the decision to re-assign Aliaksei Protas on Thursday to Hersey. Depending on how much attention you pay to these kinds of things, you may or may not know about Protas, but I would highly encourage you, dear reader, to take some time to check this dude out. He’s still likely a few years away from being in the conversation of making it at the NHL level, but he’s definitely worth watching. Built like a defenseman, the 20-year-old Belarusian is 6’6’’, 205 pounds. I had the chance to see him in a pre-season game last year and immediately became hooked on his progress. That’s the eye test, baby! He’s been a standout in his pro hockey career everywhere he’s suited up: after being drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft, he recorded 80 points (31g, 49a) in 58 games for the Prince Albert Raiders in 2019-20, ranking ninth in the WHL in points. This year he’s made a splash in the KHL, racking up 10 goals and 18 points in 58 games for Dinamo Minsk, despite only receiving 12:52 per game of ice time. Anyway, as a Lover of Big Guys™, I highly recommend checking out some of his tape and getting unreasonably excited at the prospect of him suiting up in the red, white, and blue. Anyway, back to the recap...
8. With 2:32 left to go in the third, Mika Zebanajad separated Brendan Dillion from the puck in the defensive zone and deposited it high glove side behind Ilya Samsonov. A furious effort on the 6-on-5 was thwarted as Brett Howden picked up the ENG to bring the Caps’ winning streak to an end.
9. The top storyline of the night was Tom Wilson, who returned to the ice for the first time following his seven-game suspension, in which he saw his team go 7-0-0. Wilson finished picked up an assist, a blocked shot, and tallied just one hit in 16:33 of ice time over 23 shifts. He also picked up the aforementioned slashing penalty early in the contest.
10. Ilya Samsonov offered up a remarkable performance in the loss. He finished the night stopping 22-of-24 shots for a .916% save percentage. He made a number of heroic saves to bail out Washington’s defense on more than a handful of chances.
Sammy's toe gets the highlight reel save tonight ‼️#CapsRangers @ARSRescueRooter pic.twitter.com/7m9pPYR8M1— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) March 21, 2021
Hockey giveth and hockey taketh away. Last night the one-goal contest belonged to Washington, tonight it was their turn to be on the wrong side of the scoreline in a close game. The loss also ended their seven-game winning streak which had elevated them to the top of a very competitive life insurance-sponsored East division. Up next: a well-deserved four-day break after eight games in the last fourteen days.